FBI agents largely relied on social media clues to help identify and charge a Tennessee man with being part of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol last week, according to a federal arrest affidavit released Monday.
Eric Munchel, 30, was taken into custody Sunday after being charged with one felony count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and one felony count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
A photo of a masked man carrying carrying plastic hand restraints in the U.S. Senate quickly gained attention online. According to law enforcement officials, they believe that man to be Munchel.
The affidavit states that Munchel “knowingly and willfully joined and encouraged a crowd of individuals who forcibly entered the U.S. Capitol and impeded, disrupted, and disturbed the orderly conduct of business by the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate.”
The affidavit continues that photos from the riot show a person who appears to be Munchel carrying not only plastic restraints, but also an item in a holster on his right hip, and a cell phone mounted on his chest with the camera facing outward, ostensibly to record events that day.
It said FBI agents searched through Munchel’s Facebook page to determine that he lived in Nashville and connect him to attending the demonstrations in Washington. They also used other social media platforms and livestream videos to identify Munchel, acccording to the document.
The affidavit specifically notes that Munchel was seen in Facebook and Instagram photos wearing a white T-shirt with words “Kid Rock” on it. ‘Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk’ is a bar located on lower Broadway in Nashville — which helped narrow down where Munchel may live.
Munchel was fired from the bar several months ago, according to the owner’s attorney in an emailed statement to The Associated Press.
Later Monday, Munchel appeared before a federal judge via video conference where he was appointed a public defender. His next court appearance is on January 19.
The rioters on Wednesday took over the House and Senate chambers, smashed windows and waved Trump, American and Confederate flags. Prosecutors have filed dozens of cases so far for a variety of offenses ranging from assaulting police officers to entering restricted areas of the U.S. Capitol, stealing federal property and threatening lawmakers.