The self-proclaimed leader of the “Maga Caravan,” which led dozens of vehicles to Washington, DC, to a rally held by former President Donald Trump, was charged with allegedly being one of the first insurrectionists to assault law enforcement at the US Capitol, the Justice Department announced.
Kenneth Joseph Owen Thomas, 38, of East Liverpool, Ohio, was arrested in Alabama this week for federal charges that include assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers; obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder; and engaging in physical violence on Capitol grounds. Thomas made his initial court appearance in the Northern District of Alabama Wednesday, prosecutors said. He has not entered a plea and information about his attorney was unavailable on Thursday.
The Justice Department has brought federal criminal cases against about 450 people alleged to be connected to the Capitol riot, and in recent weeks, has built out cases against groups of people who traveled to Washington, DC, for Trump rallies on January 5 and 6.
The insurrectionists stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from counting the votes to finalize Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
Investigators, in documents supporting Thomas’ arrest, describe how he convened the caravan of nearly 60 vehicles around midnight of January 6 to listen to speakers Mike Lindell and Michael Flynn, who were both parroting false accusations of election fraud.
Thomas identified himself in an interview with a local news station as “Pi Annon,” according to the criminal complaint. He later uploaded the videos from the insurrection, including one of the interview to his personal YouTube page where his display name is “Joseph Thomas,” according to the criminal complaint.
Body camera footage from Washington, DC’s Metropolitan Police Department allegedly showed Thomas “advancing toward a line of law enforcement and pushing against their shields … punched and struck the officers with his fist and forearm at least twice,” according to a news release. Law enforcement officers later confirmed the attack and stated the individual in the interview “was one of the first to come in and start hitting [and] pushing officers on the line,” prosecutors said.
Previously, prosecutors have charged members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers for their actions in the riot and for organizing an attack on the Capitol, and a few others who traveled to DC in grassroots Trump-supporter groups also have been charged.
Thomas is not charged with conspiracy.
The Justice Department also arrested Nicholas James Brockhoff, 20, of Covington, Kentucky, for spraying police with a fire extinguisher, stealing a helmet and unlawfully entering the Capitol through a broken window.
Brockhoff is expected to make his initial court appearance in the Western District of Tennessee Thursday. Attorney information for Brockhoff was not available.
Prosecutors have also charged Jeremy Grace, who joined the Proud Boys in their march to the US Capitol on January 6, after investigators found video of Grace inside the Capitol in the trash folder on his father’s cell phone.
According to court filings, Grace marched with the large group of Proud Boys to the Capitol. His father Jeffrey Grace, who was charged in February, marched alongside him.
Jeffrey Grace admitted to entering the building during a January interview with investigators, but claimed his son stayed outside. He also claimed to know members of the Proud Boys, Three Percenters, and 1% Outlaw Motorcycle Gang, but denied any membership.