An accused participant in the attack on US Congress in January was arrested after sending incriminating messages to a stranger on the dating app Bumble.
Andrew Taake, a 32-year-old man from Houston, Texas, was arrested on Friday and charged with assaulting police, obstructing law enforcement, disorderly conduct and engaging in physical violence on restricted grounds.
Prosecutors allege he assaulted and pepper sprayed police officers at the January 6 riot, during which a mob of former president Donald Trump’s supporters breached the US Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory.
According to court documents, Mr Taake was identified after the FBI received a tip-off from someone who matched with him on Bumble.
“Witness 1 messaged Taake on a dating app, Bumble, while he was in Washington. Although Taake and Witness 1 never met in person, Taake discussed his participation in the riot with Witness 1 and sent several pictures of himself, including a picture of himself taken on January 6, 2021, after he was allegedly pepper sprayed by law enforcement.
“Witness 1 said Taake admitted to being inside the US Capitol for approximately 30 minutes.”
The witness provided law enforcement with screenshots of her conversation with Mr Taake.
“The whole thing was wild! Were you near all the action?” the unidentified person asked him.
“Yes. From the very beginning,” Mr Taake wrote back.
He told the other person he was pepper sprayed while “peacefully standing”, and sent her a photo of himself, which he said was taken “about 30 minutes after being sprayed”.
“Safe to say, I was the very first person to be sprayed that day,” he claimed.
“Oh sh*t that’s crazy,” they responded.
Bumble provides its users with information about the location of potential matches. The witness took a screenshot which showed Mr Taake was in Alexandria, Virginia on January 6. The town is near Washington.
After the tip-off, the FBI reviewed Mr Taake’s flight records, determining that he flew from Houston to Baltimore, Maryland on January 5 – the day before the riot – and returned to Texas on January 8.
The agency also found several publicly posted videos and photos that showed Mr Taake at the Capitol. They showed him allegedly wielding pepper spray and an object that appeared to be a “metal whip” to “attack law enforcement officers”.
On May 28, the FBI showed the photos to a FedEx delivery driver who had just delivered a package to Mr Taake at his home in Houston. The driver identified Mr Taake as the person in the photos.
The court filing also cites body camera footage from a police officer on January 6.
“At approximately 1.16pm, the body-worn camera shows that Taake stepped forward toward the bike racks and the Metropolitan Police Department officers. He subsequently raised his arm and pepper sprayed law enforcement officers,” it states.
“Immediately after the attack, Taake retreated back into the crowd of rioters.”
Additional footage from about 2pm again showed Mr Taake, according to prosecutors.
“At 2.02pm, Taake emerged from the crowd and can be seen striking officers with a weapon that appears to be a whip. After the attack, Taake retreated back into the crowd.”
Security camera footage from inside the Capitol allegedly shows Mr Taake walking through the corridors, again wielding the “whip-like weapon”.
On July 15, an FBI agent interviewed Mr Taake. Having seen him in person, they concluded he was indeed the individual pictured in the images.
Finally, the FBI identified his mobile phone number, which was then cross-referenced against cellular tower records from Verizon.
“In and around the time of the incident, a phone associated with the Verizon telephone number (in question) was identified as having utilised a cell site consistent with providing service to a geographic area that included the interior of the US Capitol,” the filing says.
Mr Taake made his initial court appearance on Friday in the Southern District of Texas. He is one of more than 500 alleged rioters who’ve been arrested since January 6, according to the US Department of Justice.