Federal agents used two East Texans’ own social media posts to arrest them in connection with the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol. In those posts, one of the men tells other “patriots” to get their weapons and calls the riot “the second revolution.”
Ryan Nichols, 30, of Longview was held Tuesday in the Smith County Jail, while Alex Harkrider, 33, of Carthage remained in the Gregg County Jail. Both men were held on federal detainers on arrest warrants issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
While both were listed in the same court documents, separate criminal complaints were filed detailing charges.
Nichols is charged with: conspiracy and unlawful entry with dangerous weapon; violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds; civil disorder; assault on a federal officer using a deadly or dangerous weapon; and aiding and abetting.
Harkrider is charged with: conspiracy and unlawful entry with dangerous weapon; violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds; and aiding and abetting.
In videos posted to social media referenced in the court documents, Nichols is seen yelling into a bullhorn outside the Capitol, “If you have a weapon, you need to get your weapon!” In another video, Nichols yells to the gathered crowd, “This is the second revolution right here folks! ... This is not a peaceful protest.”
Two witnesses contacted the FBI to identify Nichols and Harkrider, based on social media posts, as having taken part in the Capitol riot, according to court documents.
“I have photo screen shots from their social media pages showing they were there and showing (Harkrider) stated they were planning a civil war,” one witness told the FBI on Jan. 9.
Court documents say the FBI found photographs, screenshots from social media and video “depicting both men present and engaged in criminal activity during the assault on the U.S. Capitol.”
Another photo posted to social media — a selfie of Nichols and Harkrider standing outside the Capitol — has the caption, “We’re in.”
In other photographs and video, Nichols and Harkrider are seen standing on the ledge of a Capitol window that is broken, with Nichols holding a bullhorn and a crowbar, according to court documents.
Nichols also is accused of shooting pepper spray at federal officers.
A video posted to his Facebook page that has been taken down is referenced in the court documents and shows a man identified as Nichols shooting “an unknown agent, believed based on its appearance to be OC/pepper spray, in the direction of the entrance into the U.S. Capitol building, where federal law enforcement officers were engaged in the performance of official duties, that is, seeking to restrain the mob of individuals who were forcing entry.”
The FBI also obtained photos and video footage from Harkrider’s Snapchat account. In one of those photos, Harkrider is seen inside the Capitol building with the caption: “We’re in. 2 people killed already. We need all the patriots of this country to rally the (expletive) up and fight for our freedom or it’s gone forever. Give us liberty, or give us death. We won’t stand for it.”
Other photos posted to Nichols’ Facebook page that also have been removed show the two men outside the Capitol among a crowd.
“Patriots stood their ground today!” Nichols posted with one of the photos. “We aren’t done yet, either! You want to steal our election, and not hear us in court? Good! Now you’ll hear our civil unrest!”
According to court documents, the FBI identified another Facebook page belonging to Nichols for his podcast, “Don’t Listen to Ryan.” While the Facebook page was still up as of Tuesday, Nichols’s podcast webpage has been taken down along with his YouTube videos.
On the podcast Facebook page, Nichols pushed back against a conspiracy theory that said members of Antifa stormed the Capitol, according to court documents.
“Listen up: I hear so many reports of ‘Antifa’ was storming the capital building. Know that every single person who believes that narrative has been DUPED AGAIN! Sure, there may have been some ‘Antifa’ in DC, but there wasn’t enough to ‘Storm the Capital’ themselves.”
Nichols, on Facebook, threatened violence based on the outcome of the election certification process weeks before Jan. 6, according to court documents. On Dec. 24, he posted a photo of a bullet with the caption, “By Bullet or Ballot, Restoration of the Republic is Coming.”
Four days later, according to the documents, Nichols posted, “Pence better do the right thing, or we’re going to MAKE you do the right thing,” an apparent reference to the belief that Vice President Mike Pence could change the outcome of the election.
Nichols was a Realtor with Texas Real Estate Executives, but a representative told News-Journal news partner CBS19 that Nichols was terminated after the firm discovered his possible involvement in the riot.