(Business Insider) – The bearded, cigar-smoking Proud Boys member who led the Capitol’s invasion by a pro-Trump mob had manuals for making bombs, guns, and poisons on a thumb drive, federal prosecutors allege.
Dominic Pezzola, 43, was among the first rioters to charge the police lines during the Capitol’s insurrection following a pro-Trump rally on January 6, court documents say.
The document, which argues for his pretrial detention, alleges he used a police riot shield to smash a Capitol window to let people in, making him “among the first — if not the first” to get inside the building.
His actions showed “planning, determination, and coordination,” prosecutors say.
The Proud Boys are a right-wing group of nationalists whose rallies are associated with violence and was a significant presence at the Capitol insurrection. Leader Enrique Tarrio was arrested the day before the riots on property destruction charges stemming from an earlier protest.
A police search of Pezzola’s home revealed a thumb drive containing hundreds of detailed pdfs, with titles including:
- Several titles in a series called “Advanced Improvised Explosives.”
- A book subtitled “The Ultimate DIY Machine Pistol.”
- “Ragnar’s Big Book of Homemade Weapons.”
- “The Advanced Anarchist’s Arsenal: Recipes for Improvised Incendiaries and Explosives.”
A lawyer for Pezzola, Mike Scibetta, did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment but told Reuters that the thumb drive had been given to Pezzola and contained “survivalist material.”
“The government has cherry-picked a small portion of the paper to suit their narrative,” he told the news agency.
Speaking to the Associated Press (AP), he described Pezzola as a family man for whom breaking into the Capitol would be “wildly out of character.”
In separate events, the FBI now believes that pipe bombs found at the Capitol insurrection were put there the night before, according to CNN.
In footage that he shared on social media, Pezzola smoked a cigar once inside the Capitol and bragged that he knew he and his could companions could “take this motherf—— over,” if they tried hard enough, prosecutors say.
Court documents say Pezzola and a group of men then ended up in a confrontation with Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who drew the mob away from the Senate chamber.
Goodman was later hailed as a hero and escorted Vice-President Kamala Harris on President Joe Biden’s inauguration day.
A witness, who knows Pezzola as “Spaz,” told prosecutors that he was part of a group, who later bragged that they had been ready to kill every “m-f—er” they encountered. They wanted to target then-Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the witness said.
They also discussed coming back on “the 20th,” understood to prosecutors as Biden’s inauguration day, the witness said.
Unprecedented levels of security around both the Capitol and Washington DC accompanied Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
Pezzola went to ground after the riot, switching off his phone on January 9 and shaving off his beard, prosecutors said. Scibetta, the lawyer, disputed this interpretation, telling an ABC affiliate that there had not been a dramatic change to his appearance.
When the manhunt reached his hometown of Rochester, New York, on January 15, Pezzola turned himself in. He was indicted on numerous charges, including conspiracy, civil disorder, unlawfully entering a restricted building, robbery, and assaulting officers, according to the Justice Department.
Another Proud Boys member, 31-year-old William Pepe, was arrested on charges of conspiracy, civil disorder, and unlawfully entering restricted buildings or grounds, according to Reuters.