Federal authorities have charged a Spring man who allegedly participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Joshua Lollar, 39, faces three charges after the FBI combed through his Facebook page and found a myriad of posts detailing involvement in the riot. One of those posts appeared to show him at the front of a group trying to get through a line of Metropolitan police officers, a FBI special agent said.
“Given the close proximity of the MPD officers to the camera lens, and the fact that there is no person or property visible in between the camera and the bodies of the MPD officers, it appears that Lollar was at the front lines of a physical confrontation with MPD officers,” the agent wrote in court documents.
Lollar spoke with investigators and admitted to traveling to and being at the riot, the agent said. He willingly handed over his cell phone, as well as his password.
Lollar is scheduled to make his initial appearance in a Houston federal court Friday afternoon.
Authorities first heard of Lollar through a tip to the FBI’s National Threat Operations Center, according to court documents. The tipster said he believed the defendant was one of many Donald Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol following the president’s speech at the Ellipse.
The tipster said he was friends with Lollar on Facebook and saw many photos and a livestream video of him clashing with police officers. He sent several screenshots, including a photo with the caption, “Busting in,” and another with the caption “inside the Capitol.”
Another screenshot showed the post: “Sorry they are jamming the phones so I can’t do much about a live stream or uploading. I’ll do my best, it’s about to get spicey boi!”
After one of his Facebook friends asked how the riot was going, the profile associated with his name wrote, “They ran us out of the Capitol area. Antifa was randomly in our groups. They forgot to take off the black block. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but I will try to do more vids”.
Authorities interviewed Lollar on Monday. He said he had driven from Spring to D.C., attended Trump’s speech, and then followed the crowd to the Capitol, the special agent said. He told agents he did enter the Capitol and recorded several videos for Facebook — most or all of which were removed but were still on his phone.
In the photos and videos on his phone, Lollar was seen at times wearing a “Keep America Great” cap, a tan body armor vest and a gas mask.
Another video showed Lollar as part of a crowd unsuccessfully attempting to push through a line of law enforcement officers, documents show.
At night, he posted, “Yeah, I’m good. Just got gassed and fought with cops that I never thought would happen”.
The post continues, “I don’t know what we can do, but I’m trying my best to get it done peaceful. We can’t loose [sic] our America.”
A Facebook user appearing to be Lollar’s sister urged him multiple times to remove the posts because of the potential of federal prosecutions.
Lollar is being charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building without lawful authority and impeding or disrupting official functions; obstructing or impeding law enforcement officer during civil disorder and obstruction federally protected functions; and violent entry and disorderly conduct on capitol grounds.
Ryan K. Patrick is one of many U.S. attorneys nationwide who have vowed to prosecute anyone from their regions who traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in the insurrection that led to five deaths, including a Capitol Police officer.
Patrick, who represents the Southern District of Texas, said Justice Department officials in Washington will likely pursue cases that involve violence, theft, property damage, criminal mischief, trespassing or knowingly entering or remaining in restricted building or grounds without permission.
There are charges local districts can file as well, on their own or in coordination with “main justice” in Washington.
If someone involved in the melee lived in the sprawling 43-county Southern District, Patrick said, he would investigate whether the person planned in advance to travel to Washington to incite a riot.
Christina Garza, spokesperson for the FBI in Houston, said the agency welcomes tips that will help identify people who instigated rioting and violence at the Capitol and elsewhere in Washington. Witnesses with information, photos, multimedia or videos related to this investigation can submit materials through a form at fbi.gov/USCapitol or call 1-800-CALL-FBI or 1-800-225-5324.