Man who claims to be a journalist arrested after filming Capitol breach, cheering on rioters
Police arrested a Utah man for participating in the deadly breach of the U.S. Capitol last week following his publication of a more than half-hour long recording that documented disturbing images of the mob of Trump supporters storming the building and a woman being fatally shot.
John Sullivan was arrested Thursday and charged with civil disorders, violent entry or disorderly conduct, and violating restricted buildings or grounds. He is set to appear before a federal judge in the District of Utah on Friday, according to the Justice Department.
Sullivan — who claims to be an activist, journalist and protest organizer — published online an unedited recording of the breach of the Capitol on Jan. 6, when a mob of pro-Trump supporters violently stormed the building in an effort to disrupt the certification of the Electoral College results affirming President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Sullivan’s recording provided stark images of how some events unfolded amid the chaos, with clear pictures of some of those who participated and culminating in the fatal shooting of a woman, Ashli Babbitt.
Babbitt, who was shot by Capitol Police while attempting to climb through a broken window into the Speaker’s Lobby in the Capitol, died from her injuries. She was one of five people who died that day, including an officer who died from wounds sustained in the attack.
At times Sullivan can be heard narrating what is happening, although his face is never seen. He celebrates the breach of the Capitol, assists rioters in breaching the Capitol walls onto the western terrace and offers a knife to those who wanted to break in and occupy the House chambers.
“This shit is ours! F— yeah,” Sullivan can be heard saying during the breach.
“We accomplished this shit. We did this together. F— yeah! We are all a part of this history,” he continues.
At another point he says, “Let’s burn this shit down.”
Sullivan filmed several encounters with Capitol Police officers, at times resisting being told to exit the building, declaring that he is just recording and telling them that they are outnumbered by Trump supporters and should move aside.
In an interview with Rolling Stone published Wednesday, Sullivan said that many of the things he said on camera were a ruse to protect himself from the mob of Trump supporters in the building and to gain access to key vantage points for filming. He said that he willingly handed over any documentation he had to law enforcement.
The criminal complaint against Sullivan confirms that he voluntarily participated in an interview with the FBI the day after the insurrection at the Capitol and that he cooperated with handing over his footage.
The affidavit to support the criminal charges said that Sullivan identifies himself as an “activist and a journalist” but that he does not have any press credentials. The affidavit also notes that on July 13, local law enforcement in Provo, Utah, charged Sullivan with rioting and criminal mischief related to a June 30 protest at which a civilian was shot and injured. The case is still pending.
Sullivan has repeatedly claimed that he was only at the Capitol to document and report.
“He has admitted, however, that he has no press credentials and the investigation has not revealed any connection between Sullivan and any journalistic organizations,” the affidavit reads.
The affidavit lays out much of what Sullivan said on camera — celebrating the violent breach, egging on rioters, suggesting different violent actions — as part of the federal government’s statement of facts supporting probable cause for the three charges filed against him.
Sullivan told Rolling Stone he didn’t fear being arrested.
“I haven’t done anything incriminating. If they were after me, I’d already have been arrested. That’s for sure,” he said.
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