300 People Who Participated in Capitol Riot Still Unidentified by FBI

About 300 people who participated in the January 6 Capitol riot are still not identified by the FBI, according to the bureau's website, and information is being sought on those involved.

The site displays more than 900 photos of the unidentified individuals who took part in the storming of the federal building. The FBI is also offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information on the suspect who planted pipe bombs outside of the offices of the Republican and Democratic national committees on January 5.

"They will find them," Robert Anderson Jr., a former executive assistant director of the FBI's Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch, told the Associated Press. "I don't care how long it takes. If they are looking for them, they will find them."

So far, more than 500 rioters have been arrested, and more than a dozen have pleaded guilty to charges, according to the AP.

January 6 Capitol Riot
About 300 people who took part in the January 6 Capitol riot are still unidentified by the FBI. Above, supporters of former President Donald Trump roam under the Capitol Rotunda after invading the building. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

The first waves of arrests in the deadly siege of the Capitol focused on the easy targets. Dozens in the pro-Trump mob openly bragged about their actions on January 6 on social media and were captured in shocking footage broadcast live by national news outlets.

The struggle to find rioters reflects the massive scale of the investigation and the grueling work still ahead for authorities in the face of an increasing effort by some Republican lawmakers to rewrite what happened that day.

Among those who still haven't been caught are many people accused of attacks on law enforcement officers or violence and threats against journalists.

Part of the problem is that authorities made very few arrests on January 6. They were focused instead on clearing the building of members of the massive mob that attacked police, damaged historic property and combed the halls for lawmakers they threatened to kill. Federal investigators are forced to go back and hunt down participants.

The FBI has since received countless tips and pieces of digital media from the public. But a tip is only the first step of a painstaking process—involving things like search warrants and interviews—to confirm people's identities and their presence at the insurrection in order to bring a case in court. And authorities have no record of many of the attackers because this was their first run-in with the law.

"Most of these people never showed up on the radar screen before," said Frank Montoya Jr., a retired FBI special agent who led the bureau's field offices in Seattle and Honolulu. "You watch the movies and a name comes up on the radar screen, and they know all the aliases and the last place he ate dinner, all with a click of a button. Unfortunately, that's not how it is in reality."

The FBI has been helped by "sedition hunters," or armchair detectives who have teamed up to identify some of the most elusive suspects, using crowdsourcing to pore over the vast trove of videos and photos from the assault.

Forrest Rogers, a business consultant who helped form a group of sedition hunters called "Deep State Dogs," said the group has reported the possible identities of about 100 suspects to the FBI based on evidence it collected.

Sometimes, a distinctive article of clothing helps the group make a match. In one case, a woman carrying a unique iPhone case on January 6 had been photographed with the same case at an earlier protest, Rogers said.

"It's seeking justice," he said. "This is something that's unprecedented in the history of our country." Rogers asked, "Where else have you had several thousands of people who commit a crime and then immediately disperse all over the United States?"

John Scott-Railton is a senior researcher at the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto who has been collaborating with journalists and others to identify suspects using digital clues. He said that while much is known about the "small fish" who committed crimes that day, a deeper understanding is needed of the actions of organized group leaders.

"We all need to be in a place where we can have conversations about what January 6th was that go beyond a bunch of individuals motivated by a set of ideologies who showed up at the Capitol," he said.

Those being sought include many accused of violent attacks on officers. One video released by the FBI shows an unidentified man attacking officers with a baton. In another, a man is seen ripping the gas mask off an officer who screamed in pain as he was being crushed into a doorway by the angry mob.

The FBI on Tuesday released 11 new videos of rioters attacking law enforcement officers and appealed for the public's help in identifying the suspects. More than 100 people already have been arrested on suspicion of assaulting law enforcement officers at the Capitol.

In some cases, social media platforms have turned over incriminating posts that defendants tried to delete after their gleeful celebrations of the siege gave way to fears of being arrested. Often, the attackers' own family, friends or acquaintances tipped off authorities.

In one case, the FBI used facial comparison software to find a suspect on his girlfriend's Instagram account. Agents then went undercover, secretly recorded the man at work and got him on tape admitting to being in the crowd, which he described as "fun."

"The more of these people you identify—potentially through search warrants and social media communications—you're going to be able to identify others," said Tom O'Connor, who focused on counterterrorism as a special agent before leaving the bureau in 2019. "Those people who have been arrested will then be given the opportunity to cooperate and identify other persons involved."

In regards to the person responsible for planting the pipe bombs in Washington on January 5, footage shows a person in a gray hooded sweatshirt, a mask and gloves appearing to place one of the explosives under a bench outside the Democratic National Committee and the person walking in an alley near the Republican National Committee before the bomb was placed there. It remains unclear whether the bombs were related to planning for the insurrection.

Justice Department officials say arresting everyone involved in the insurrection remains a top priority. Authorities recently arrested the 100th person accused of assaulting law enforcement as well as the first person accused of assaulting a member of the press—a man prosecutors say tackled a cameraman.

More than a dozen January 6 defendants have pleaded guilty, including two members of the Oath Keepers militia group who admitted to conspiring with other extremists to block the certification of President Joe Biden's victory.

Most of the other plea deals reached so far are in cases where defendants were charged only with misdemeanors for illegally entering the Capitol. The only defendant who has been sentenced is an Indiana woman who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was spared any time behind bars.

January 6 Capitol Mob
Supporters of former President Donald Trump gather outside of the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo