clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Salt Lake Valley man charged federally for alleged role in U.S. Capitol riot

Mugshot of John Sullivan at the Tooele County Jail.
John Sullivan
Tooele County Jail

SALT LAKE CITY — A Sandy man who participated in a pro-Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol that turned into a violent attack has been charged for his alleged involvement that day.

John Earle Sullivan, 25, was charged federally on Wednesday with being on restricted property, civil disorder and “violent entry or disorderly conduct,” according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia.

An arrest warrant was also issued for Sullivan, who was picked up by authorities in Tooele County on Thursday and booked into the Tooele County Jail.

Sullivan, who is the founder of Insurgence USA, a social justice group that calls itself anti-fascist and protests police brutality, attended a rally in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 held by supporters of President Donald Trump outside the U.S. Capitol. The group “expressly stated that their purpose was to stop or disrupt” the certification of the Electoral College vote of the 2020 presidential election, according to charging documents.

Five people died after protesters stormed their way into the Capitol. Numerous people have been arrested and charged in connection with the incident.

Sullivan was detained by Washington police the next day after giving interviews to local and national media about what he witnessed. He claimed he was only there to document the event. But even though he “claimed to be an activist and journalist that filmed protests and riots,” he also admitted “that he has no press credentials and the investigation has not revealed any connection between Sullivan and any journalistic organizations,” according to charging documents.

Furthermore, federal investigators say that Sullivan could be frequently heard encouraging the crowd inside the Capitol.

The charges state that Sullivan can be seen in a video posted on YouTube “telling a crowd, over a microphone, ‘We about to burn this (expletive) down,’ and ‘We ain’t waiting until the next election ... we about to go get that (expletive).’ Sullivan then can be seen leading the crowd in a chant of, ‘It’s time for a revolution.’”

He also wore a ballistic vest and gas mask when he entered the Capitol, according to the charges.

“He further stated that he entered the U.S. Capitol with others through a window that had been broken out. Sullivan stated he followed the crowd as the crowd pushed past U.S. Capitol Police and followed the crowd into the U.S. Capitol,” the charges state.

Sullivan was recording on his phone when Ashli E. Babbitt, 35, of San Diego, was shot and killed by Capitol Police. The shooting occurred in an area Sullivan was not allowed to be in, the charges state.

Federal investigators reviewed the videos Sullivan recorded. In one video, he is filming as the crowd breaks past the last police barricade.

“Sullivan can be heard in the video saying at various points: ‘There are so many people. Let’s go. This (expletive) is ours!’ ... ’We accomplished this (expletive). We did this together. ... We are all a part of this history,’” according to the charges.

Other videos show Sullivan helping a person climbing over the Capitol walls and then entering the Capitol through a broken window, the charges state.

“In at least two encounters, Sullivan can be heard on the video arguing with the officers, telling them to stand down so that they do not get hurt. Among other things, Sullivan can be heard telling officers, ‘You are putting yourself in harm’s way,’ ‘The people have spoken,’ and ‘There are too many people, you gotta stand down, the people out there that tried to do that (expletive), they got hurt, I saw it, I’m caring about you,’” according to the charges.

In another video, Sullivan is heard telling other protesters that he has a knife, the charges state.

Sullivan is also currently facing charges in Utah of organizing a protest in Utah County last summer that resulted in one motorist being shot.