Man identified as Jan. 6 Capitol riot participant arrested near Obama's D.C. home

 July 1, 2023

A surprising arrest related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot of 2021 was made on Thursday in the vicinity of the Washington D.C. home of former President Barack Obama, according to NBC News.

The individual taken into custody has been identified as Taylor Taranto, 37, who was a known participant in the unrest at the Capitol building and had an outstanding warrant out for his arrest.

He reportedly had been recently living out of a van near the D.C. jail where most other Jan. 6 defendants have been held, in some instances for years, pending trial for their alleged crimes at the Capitol.

A "fugitive from justice"

CBS News reported that Taranto was brought before a D.C. magistrate judge on Friday and was ordered to remain in jail without bond pending another court hearing that is scheduled to take place next week.

He was said to have been spotted by U.S. Secret Service agents on Thursday just a few blocks away from former President Obama's D.C. home, though it is unclear how much of a threat, if any, he actually posed to the former president.

That said, a search of his van by law enforcement turned up a pair of guns and around 400 rounds of ammunition, as well as a machete and "potentially explosive chemicals," according to multiple unnamed sources.

Taranto already faces four misdemeanor charges related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and will likely soon face additional charges, likely including being a purported "fugitive from justice" in light of the open warrant that had previously been issued for his arrest.

On top of that, he is also one of two named defendants in a civil lawsuit related to the death of former D.C. police officer Jeffrey Smith, who committed suicide just days after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, during which Taranto is alleged to have physically attacked Smith.

Multiple agencies involved in arrest, investigation

CNN reported that Taranto, after being spotted by the Secret Service, was subsequently arrested by D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department, which said in a statement, "Arresting officers requested MPD’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team to perform a vehicle sweep of the individual’s van near the location of the arrest."

"There is no active threat to the community and this incident remains under investigation," the MPD added.

In addition to the MPD, an official with the U.S. Capitol Police said his agency, along with the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force, "assisted in the investigation due to a concern for public safety and the potential for violence against Members of Congress."

CNN also reported that firearms and ammunition had been found in Taranto's van, but as to the "potentially explosive chemicals" mentioned in the CBS report, that likely was consistent with CNN's reporting that "materials to make Molotov cocktails" were discovered during the search.

Claims he did nothing wrong

CBS News noted that Taranto is a military veteran with no prior criminal record who has openly acknowledged that he entered the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021 -- he even posted a live stream on social media from inside on that day -- but has insisted that he never did anything wrong.

Why it took so long for authorities to arrest him, particularly given that he made no secrets of his whereabouts and has been camped near the D.C. jail for weeks, if not months -- is a question that remains to be answered.

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