FBI searching for Florida man in Capitol riot

By Jessica De Leon
Bradenton Herald/TNS

MANATEE, Fla. - The FBI is searching for the Florida man identified in a viral photo showing him carrying U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s lectern as he marauded through the U.S. Capitol during Wednesday’s riot by pro-Trump supporters.

Adam Christian Johnson, 36, of Parrish, Fla., was promptly identified on social media by many local residents Wednesday, as the photo captured by chief Getty Images photographer Win McNamee quickly circulated on social media. Some also identified him in tips sent to the FBI.

Johnson was not among the 13 suspects identified by the U.S. Department of Justice on Friday as having been already charged in federal court for their alleged roles in the riot. Complaints have been filed against others, but those remain under seal.

Among the federal charges filed against the 13 suspects - and that Johnson also could face - are knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and theft of public money, property, or records, which carries a punishment of up to 10 years in prison.

During a media call on Friday afternoon, Steven D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, stressed these charges were just the beginning and that the FBI would spare no resource. This investigation, he said, is a priority for the entire FBI.

“Make no mistake, our work here is not done,” D’Antuono said. “Just because you left the D.C. region, you can still expect a knock on the door if we find out that you were part of the criminal activity at the Capitol.”

On Friday, FBI special agents following up on some tips from Manatee County as part of their “all-hands-on-deck” effort across the country to investigate those responsible for the riot.

Allan Mestel, a photographer in Bradenton, was among those contacted by FBI agents in response to a tip. Mestel knows Johnson through a mutual association, he explained.

“I do know some details about his relationship and the problems they have had with his extreme right views, which has now come to a head,” Mestel said. “Once I saw the picture of him with Nancy Pelosi’s podium, I knew it was him.”

Agents asked about his associations with Johnson, as well as whether Mestel knew Johnson’s current whereabouts or who else may have traveled to Washington, D.C., with him. Mestel and anyone with pictures or screenshots of Johnson’s social media posts, especially those taken during the riot at the Capitol, have been asked to submit them to the FBI by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324). You can submit images or videos at fbi.gov/USCapitol.

“It was pretty clear that they were looking for him,” Mestel said.

It is not known whether Johnson has returned to Florida, but Johnson had traveled to D.C. by car, according to an acquaintance.

Of the 13 suspects who have been named, at least two are Florida residents.

Matthew Council, of Riverview, Fla, was charged Thursday with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, according to charging documents.

Police report that Council was among those who breached the emergency exit near the Senate wing of the Capitol while yelling at officers attempting to stop them. Once inside, Council pushed one officer and was subsequently pepper-sprayed, according to that officer.

Michael Curzio, of Summerfield, Fla, was charged Thursday with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; knowingly, with intent to impede government business or official functions, engaging in disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds; and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Curzio was among six people police said were at the front of a crowd of dozens who were told to leave when they were seen in the upper level of the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center near the door to the House Atrium. He and the five others refused to leave and were arrested by Capitol police.

The FBI is searching for the Florida man identified in a viral photo showing him carrying U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's lectern through the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021, amid a violent outburst by supporters of President Donald Trump that left five dead.