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Tennessee's Capitol riot suspects: Who are they, and what do we know about cases against them?

Posted: 12:10 PM, Jan 06, 2022
Updated: 2022-01-06 19:43:18-05
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Capitol riot

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Here are the Tennesseans who have been charged for their alleged involvement in the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol:

Matthew Baggott, Woodbury (Cannon County) – Charged with illegally entering the Capitol (along with Stewart Parks), impeding official business and violent entry or disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

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Stewart Parks, Matthew Baggott

Among the evidence, according to an FBI affidavit, was “video of a group of people approaching what appears to be an entrance to the Capitol building, including a man in a red sweatshirt, black backpack and dark baseball hat – later identified as Matthew Baggott – throwing an object toward a group of Capitol police officers.”

Baggott was released, with conditions, pending trial.

Matthew Bledsoe, Cordova (Shelby County) – Charged with illegally entering the Capitol (along with three other men) and violent entry or disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

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Matthew Bledsoe social media posts

According to an FBI affidavit, Bledsoe posted video of himself and his companions entering the Capitol as an alarm sounds in the background. “His companion says, ‘We’re going in!’ Mr. Bledsoe turns the camera to show the door then says, 'In the Capitol. This is our house. We pay for this s---. Where’s those pieces of s--- at?'”

The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported that, at Bledsoe’s arraignment, prosecutors presented text messages that Bledsoe sent his wife in the days following the riot. “One text, sent on Jan. 10 from Bledsoe to his wife stated, ‘They are all going to be executed,’ referring to elected officials. In another text, Bledsoe's wife said, ‘There's a bomb threat at the Capitol.’ Bledsoe responded, ‘Good.’"

Bledsoe was released, with conditions, pending trial.

Christopher Michael Cunningham, Nashville – Charged with illegally entering the Capitol, engaging in disorderly conduct and illegally parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

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Christopher Cunningham selfie inside U.S. Capitol

According to an FBI affidavit, Cunningham posted a selfie to social media showing himself inside the Capitol during the breach. “On February 23, 2021, Cunningham called Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) to report that a pressure washer was stolen from his front porch…. During the interaction with the MNPD officer, Cunningham identified himself and stated that he entered the U.S. Capitol building on January 6. 2021.”

Cunningham was released, with conditions, pending trial.

Jack Griffith, Gallatin – Pleaded guilty to illegally demonstrating inside the U.S. Capitol (along with three men) and sentenced to 36 months probation.

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Social media post by Jack Griffith, aka Juan Bibiano

Griffith, using the pseudonym Juan Bibiano, posted to social media, “All going to D.C. THE CAVALRY IS COMING!!!” After Joe Biden’s election was finally certified, Griffith posted that he had helped storm the Capitol, “but it only made things worse.”

He also wrote. “The New World beat us. Trump was our greatest champion, and it still wasn’t enough.” He ended, “Unless… Trump still has a plan?”

Albuquerque Cosper Head, Kingsport – Charged with obstruction of an official proceeding, civil disorder, assaulting a D.C. police officer, illegally entering a restricted building, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, impeding ingress/egress in a restricted building, engaging in physical violence in a restricted building, impeding passage through the Capitol, acts of physical violence in the Capitol.

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Christopher Head allegedly battling with police

According to an FBI affidavit, Head was among a mob that battled with police at one entrance to the Capitol and attacked Capitol police officer Michael Fanone, identified in the affidavit as “M.F.”

Video also shows Head “using riot shields to strike toward the police line.”

Then, “while Officer M.F. was defending the doorway, the defendant, Albuquerque Head, pulled Officer M.F. into the crowd, where members of the crowd attacked and beat the officer,” the affidavit says. “Additional video obtained by the FBI shows the defendant dragging Officer M.F. through the crowd.”

Head is being held pending trial.

Bryan Wayne Ivey, Crossville – Pleaded guilty to illegally protesting inside the Capitol and is awaiting sentencing.

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Bryan Wayne Ivey

According to an FBI affidavit, a confidential informant reported that Ivey was a person seen in an image next to a man who was using a police shield to shatter a Capitol window. “Ivey was then seen on surveillance cameras inside the U.S. Capitol entering the building via the window that was broken. Ivey proceeds to a door nearby and attempts to assist others in entering the building.”

Ivey was released, with conditions, pending trial.

Ronald Colton McAbee, Unionville (Bedford County) – A Williamson County sheriff’s deputy at the time of the Capitol riot, McAbee is charged with inflicting bodily harm on a D.C. police officer, assaulting another officer, two counts of civil disorder, illegally entering the Capitol, disorderly or disruptive conduct with a deadly weapon, engaging in physical violence with a deadly weapon and violent entry or disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

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Ronald Colton McAbee
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Ronald Colton McAbee

According to prosecutors, McAbee was part of a group that violently assaulted three officers in a 90-second period. In one case, McAbee grabbed an officer inside an archway and “engaged in a tug-of-war with officers who were trying to pull (the officer) back into the archway.” McAbee “stood upright and began swinging his arms” at a second officer, then he grabbed the first officer’s torso, “pulling him out of the archway.”

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Ronald Colton McAbee
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Former Williamson County sheriff's deputy Ronald McAbee

McAbee was wearing gloves with reinforced knuckles, carrying a baton or black stick, the FBI said. He was “wearing a black tactical vest emblazoned with the Roman numeral III encircled in stars” – a symbol of the far-right Three Percenters – along with a “SHERIFF” patch and a red “Make America Great Again” baseball hat.

“The defendant dressed in a manner that indicates that he anticipated violence at the Capitol,” prosecutors wrote. “The defendant’s ready participation in these violent assaults on police officers, while he himself was a sheriff’s deputy, and his attempted use that status to obtain special treatment is powerful evidence of his lack of regard for legal authority.”

McAbee is being held pending trial.

Clifford James Meteer, Knoxville – Charged with illegally entering the Capitol, disorderly and disruptive conduct, entering and remaining on the Floor of Congress, and parading, demonstrating or picketing inside the Capitol.

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Clifford James Meteer

According to an FBI affidavit, photos and video show Meteer “carrying a two-sided, homemade sign attached to what appears to be a wooden dowel rod with him throughout the Capitol building. The sign is green on one side with the words 'STOP THE STEAL' and white on the other side with the words 'SAVE THE REPUBLIC.'”

In a Facebook message, Meteer reportedly wrote, “Once the sacred vote is violated, a patriot's duty is to rattle the cage, to remind them who really runs the show. And as long no great desecration occurs, honor was preserved.”

Meteer was released, with conditions, pending trial.

Eric Munchel, Nashville – Charged with conspiracy to commit obstruction, obstruction of an official proceeding, entering a restricted building with a deadly or dangerous weapon, disorderly or disruptive conduct, unlawful possession of a weapon on Capitol grounds, entering and remaining in the Gallery of Congress, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

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Eric Munchel with mother Lisa Marie Eisenhart

After entering the Capitol with his mother Lisa Marie Eisenhart, the Nashville bar employee was photographed in the Senate gallery wearing dark fatigues, carrying plastic restraints (termed by some as zip ties) with “an item in a holster on his right hip.”

An FBI affidavit said Munchel had described his motives to a British newspaper. Munchel is quoted as stating, “We wanted to show that we’re willing to rise up, band together and fight if necessary. Same as our forefathers, who established this country in 1776.” He also characterized the events as “kind of flexing muscles . . . [t]he point of getting inside the building is to show them we can, and we will.”

Munchel was released, with conditions, pending trial.

Related: New video shows 'zip-tie guy,' mom during Capitol riot

Joseph Padilla, Cleveland – Charged with assaulting law enforcement officers, two counts of assaulting law enforcement officers with a dangerous weapon, three counts of civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, entering a restricted building with a dangerous weapon, disorderly and disruptive conduct, engaging in physical violence in a restricted building and committing an act of physical violence in the Capitol Grounds.

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Joseph Padilla

According to the judge overseeing the case, more than two weeks before Jan. 6, “Padilla messaged another user on Facebook: ‘Honestly I don’t think anything less than taking DC with an a [sic] heavily armed protest is the only thing that will work. Remind them We The People are in charge, not the deepstate.’ When the user responded, ‘[y]ou gonna pack?’ … Padilla replied, ‘[o]nly if I can find an organized group who is as well’ because ‘[i]f people straggle in in ones and twos, cops can arrest anyone who is packing.’

"Padilla added: ‘Might just have to fight Proud Boys style.’ The following day, Padilla messaged: ‘All I can say is that this is the tipping point. Take a weapon, I plan on buying a rifle in the next couple days. If sh*t kicks off you’ll upgrade your weapon.’”

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Joseph Padilla on police bodycam

On January 6, the judge found, Padilla confronted D.C. police who were manning a metal barricade. “Padilla refers to several officers as ‘f---ing oathbreakers,’ and tells one officer that he is ‘defending a machine that doesn’t even f---ing care about you, man, but if you let us in there that machine will be gone and we will f---ing protect you people.’

At approximately 1:37 p.m., Padilla places his hands on the barricade and says to the police line: ‘Y'all beat me, y'all tased me, and I ain’t stoppin’. You understand?’ About a minute later, Padilla starts pushing the metal barricade into the line of police officers using both hands and shouts: ‘Push! Push! F---ing push! F---ing push!’” Padilla helps grab a large sign “in an effort to ram it against the barricade,” which eventually falls.

Later, Padilla is seen on video outside an archway leading into the Capitol, as other rioters are shown attacking officers. “Padilla then cocks back a pole that he has been holding and throws it at the mass of officers in the archway. The pole appears to hit an officer before sliding to the ground.”

The next day, the judge continued, Padilla posted to Facebook: “There’s a lot of memes and posts flying around saying that the people who were fighting last night were Antifa provacateurs [sic] etc. I just want to say that as a first hand observer of every point of last night, that it was not Antifa. They were Patriots who were trying to Restore the Republic after being attacked by cops, who struck first. Even those who broke the windows next to the doorway to the Capitol were Patriots trying to find a way to turn the Flanks of the cops.”

In a Facebook message, he wrote: “Yeah I’m proud of what I did yesterday. Its [sic] guns next, that’s the only way.”

Padilla is being held pending trial.

Stewart Parks, Murfreesboro -- Accused of illegally entering Capitol (along with Matthew Baggott), impeding official business, violent or disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and theft of government property.

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Stewart Parks allegedly taking handheld metal detector on his way out of the Capitol

Among the evidence, according to an FBI affidavit, was a post to an Instagram account in the name of @pastorparks showing the inside of a Southwest flight with the caption “ON THE WAY TO DO TO STOP THE STEAL.” Another post said, “PARTY WAS FUN TIL THE SWAT SHOWED UP.”

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Stewart Parks Instagram message

Instagram messages from the night of January 6 show Parks wrote to an associate, “We ain’t giving up. No way in hell Biden is getting the presidency.” The FBI says Parks stole a handheld metal detector while passing through a security post on his way out of the Capitol.

Parks was released, with conditions, pending trial.

Joshua John Portlock, Smyrna – Charged with assaulting law enforcement officers, civil disorder, illegally entering a restricted building, disorderly and disruptive conduct, engaging in physical violence in a restricted building and committing acts of violence in the Capitol Grounds.

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Joshua Portlock

According to an FBI affidavit, Portlock was wearing a distinctive white cowboy hat with “Trump 2020” on the front and “Stop the Steal” in red letters on the back. Underneath the hat, he wore a black beanie with insignia for the far-right Proud Boys.

The affidavit says Portlock joined other rioters in skirmishing with police who were trying to block the mob with metal barricades. Video shows that Portlock “pushed open one of the barricades, he took it away from law enforcement officers and brought it into the crowd, such that law enforcement could no longer use it to assist keeping rioters from the Capitol.” Later, he was seen using a piece of plywood to battle officers.

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Joshua Portlock

Portlock then joined with the mob in trying to force their way into a tunnel entrance into the Capitol. “On at least two occasions, PORTLOCK participated in “heave-ho” efforts, by which multiple rioters collectively used their body mass for greater effect in pushing back officers by gaining momentum through leaning back and then pushing forward while chanting “heave-ho” to coordinate their efforts. Additionally, on at least two occasions, Portlock participated in moving what appears to be stolen USCP riot shields to the front of line of rioters to assist the rioters at the front of the line in pushing against officers.”

But the affidavit also tells a story of Portlock helping officers.

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Joshua Portlock

“In two instances, the video appears to show that Portlock assisted two officers who were separated from other officers and beaten by rioters crowded in the Lower West Terrance. Video shows MPD Officer M.F. (Michael Fanone) dragged into the crowd and beaten. Some rioters eventually helped Officer M.F. back to the line of police officers. As shown through Officer N.M.’s BWC, Portlock approached the officers at the tunnel entrance and asked 'Is he good?' likely referring, based on the context of the video, to Officer M.F.

"At another point, as shown by video captured by Jarret Robertson, MPD Officer B.M. was pulled into the crowd of rioters. While some rioters assaulted Officer B.M. as he was in the crowd, Portlock grabbed the collar of Officer B.M. and, with other rioters, pushed Officer B.M. into what appears to be a nearby handicap access elevator. By doing so, PORTLOCK effectively kept Officer B.M. away from the crowd of rioters that could have caused further harm to him. Officer B.M. was eventually reunited with other officers at the Capitol.”

Portlock was released, with conditions, pending trial.

Ronnie Bryan Presley, Bethpage (Sumner County) – Charged with civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, illegally entering a restricted building, disorderly and disruptive conduct, engaging in physical violence in a restricted building, disorderly conduct on Capitol Grounds, impeding passage through the Capitol Grounds, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

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Ronnie B. Presley

According to an FBI affidavit, Presley is seen in video “with a group of other persons unlawfully present near scaffolding just outside the Capitol building, and is heard yelling: ‘Stands is where we need to go. Do it!’ This post is taking place as various persons are unlawfully climbing the scaffolding. In another post, Ronnie Presley states: ‘I’m the guy who got you in this building. Don’t take my word for it. Watch the video.’

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Ronnie B. Presley

"In one posted image, Ronnie Presley is among a group of persons in front of a Capitol doorway with a broken window. In the image, Ronnie Presley has grabbed the top portion of a U.S. Capitol Police Officer’s riot shield.”

Presley is being held pending trial.

Blake Austin Reed, Nashville – Accused of illegally entering the Capitol (along with three other men) and violent entry or disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

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Blake Austin Reed, left, with Matthew Bledsoe

An FBI affidavit identifies Reed as a man seen wearing ski goggles and with multi-colored glass, along with a gray respirator with purple and yellow tape bands around the filter cartridges. Reed posted several images to his Facebook account, saying: “We The People have spoken and we are pissed. No antifa, no BLM… We The People took the Capitol! Every American ethnicity was here. Democratic tyranny WILL NOT STAND! WE HAVE SPOKEN!!”

Reed was released, with conditions, pending trial.

Michael Lee Roche, Murfreesboro – Charged with illegally entering the U.S. Capitol, disorderly and disruptive conduct, obstruction of Congress, entering and remaining on the Floor of Congress, disruption of official business, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in the Capitol.

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Michael Lee Roche

Video posted by The New Yorker magazine shows Roche “standing behind the Vice President’s desk in the Senate chamber of the Capitol,” according to an FBI affidavit. Roche, who was wearing a red wool cap with the number “45” on it, later posted a video to Facebook in which he says: “We did get a chance to storm the Capitol. And we made it into the chamber. . .. We managed to convince the cops to let us through. They listened to reason. And when we got into the chamber ... we all started praying and shouting in the name of Jesus Christ, and inviting Christ back into our state capitol.”

Roche was released, with conditions, pending trial.

Michael Timbrook, Cookeville – Charged with illegally entering the U.S. Capitol, disorderly and disruptive conduct, illegally entering and remaining in certain rooms in the Capitol, violent entry and disorderly conduct and parading, demonstrating or picketing inside the Capitol.

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Michael Timbrook

According to an FBI affidavit, Timbrook was captured on video entering the Capitol, later entering an office “designated for the use of an employee of Congress.” Timbrook, who allegedly admitted to the FBI that he entered the building despite being pepper-sprayed by law enforcement, posted the following to Facebook: “I’m PROUD of everyone who went in there, even the 30 or so rowdy ones. Go ahead and ban me now because I have found my voice and am going to tell this story.”

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Michael Timbrook Facebook post

Timbrook was released, with conditions, pending trial.

Eric Chase Torrens, Gallatin – Pleaded guilty to illegally demonstrating inside the Capitol (along with three other men) and sentenced to 36 months probation.

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Eric Torrens, left, with Matthew Bledsoe and Jack Griffith

According to an FBI affidavit, Torrens – wearing a distinctive fleece-lined white and gray hat – declared “We’re going in” as the group entered the Capitol.

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