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Southern Arizona man arrested for attacking police during Jan. 6 Capitol riot

Bowie resident admitted to FBI he 'did something dumb' during Trump-inspired fray

A Southern Arizona man was arrested by federal law enforcement agents Tuesday, and faces charges of assaulting police officers and civil disorder, stemming from his actions in the January 6 attack on Congress by supporters of Donald Trump who sought to halt the confirmation of the electoral votes for President Joe Biden.

Jacob Zerkle, 50, was arrested after an FBI agent identified him in body-worn camera footage as he fought with police on the Capitol grounds in January 2021, throwing punches at a least one officer, and rushing another, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Washington D.C.

Zerkle, a resident of Bowie, Ariz., east of Tucson, was dressed in a heavy leather jacket as battled with police on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol grounds after pushing past temporary barriers and green snow fencing and signage, during an effort by Trump supporters to storm into Congress with the aim of undermining the U.S. election.

Zerkle faces seven charges, including assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers, civil disorder, engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds, and acts of physical violence on Capitol grounds. Federal officials held his initial hearing Tuesday afternoon.

Last January 6, Congress was holding a joint session to formally count the votes of the Electoral College in the November 2020 election, including from Arizona where Trump lost by more than 45,000 votes. A crowd of thousands who gathered for a rally called by Trump on the National Mall overwhelmed police and smashed their way into the Capitol building, forcing members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, including Vice President Mike Pence, to evacuate.

During the incident, rioters clashed with police, assaulting 81 members of the Capitol Police and 58 members of the Metropolitan Police Department. One Capitol Police officer was fatally injured, and another had his eye gouged out. Another officer lost fingers. As police fought to protect members of Congress, a woman was shot and killed by an officer as she attempted to climb through a broken window to an area where members of Congress were defensively barricaded near the House chamber.

The bloody incident failed to stop the proceedings, with the formal ascertainment of the election completed later that day. Fallout from the insurrection led to a second impeachment trial of the ex-president, but the Senate refused to convict him for the second time in a vote split along partisan lines.

In the 14 months since Jan. 6, more than 775 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including over 245 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement, said the Justice Department. The investigation remains ongoing.

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During the riot, clips from body-worn cameras worn by three police officers with Metropolitan Police Department show Zerkle in the fray. As the FBI agent who sought his arrested noted, Zerkle had "distinctive gray facial hair fashioned into 'mutton chops'" and was wearing a worn black leather jacket, gloves, and beige cargo pants.

In the footage, Zerkle repeatedly grabbed at multiple MPD officers as they fought for control on the West Lawn, attempting to move through the crowd to get to a lower terrace to provide reinforcements for other MPD officers. At one point, Zerkle threw punches, and later grabbed one officer's baton sending his body-worn camera into the dirt.

The FBI agent identified Zerkle from the footage, and compared that his Arizona driver's license photo.

On October 28, 2021, the agent interviewed Zerkle at his home in Bowie, a small hamlet on Interstate 10 east of Willcox, and Zerkle told the agent that he went to Washington D.C. on Jan. 2 with a family member, to "protest election integrity," and that he did not attend Trump's speech, because "he went to the Capitol to protest, not to listen to speeches."

Zerkle admitted that he "pushed into some police officers and that he probably did something dumb" during the riot on January 6, and told the FBI agent that he was "shoved into the police and was trying to protect himself, but did not intend to assault a police officer," according to court records.

Zerkle joins the ranks of other Capitol rioters from Arizona, which includes Jacob Angeli, who became well-known n the QAnon conspiracy movement for his remarkable sartorial choices. Angeli often went shirtless at events, wore leather breaches, and was capped with a furry, horned headdress. When he entered the U.S. Capitol building in January during a riot by supporters of Donald Trump, he was carrying an American flag attached to a spear, and had his face painted red, white and blue.

In November, Angeli was sentenced to 41 months in prison after a federal judge called him "the epitome of the riot."

Meanwhile, federal officials are still pursuing charges against Felicia Konold and her brother Cory Konold, from the Tucson area. Both face multiple federal charges for their role in the insurrection, including conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, obstruction of law enforcement, and carrying a deadly weapon. Federal officials also linked the Konold siblings to the Kansas City chapter of the Proud Boys, a white nationalist organization known for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric. Created in 2016, the Proud Boys have become inextricably linked to Trump, and worked with other hate groups at the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Just days before the failed insurrection, the Proud Boys attacked a Black church in Washington, D.C.

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Justice Department

A screen-capture from body-worn cameras carried by an officer with the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department.