The FBI has arrested two cousins who attacked police officers during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and were identified by online sleuths, illustrating once again how independent investigators are aiding the federal investigation into the attack inspired by former President Donald Trump.
Tommy Smith, known as #MississippiFlagGuy, and Donnie Wren, known as #KingstonAsh, were arrested this week, nine months after the attack. Both face a 10-count indictment that includes several felony charges.
Online sleuths operating under the #SeditionHunters moniker identified Wren and his cousin back in February thanks to the jacket featuring a company logo that Wren was wearing, one sleuth told HuffPost. As of Wednesday, Smith had images from Jan. 6 on his Facebook page.
“Still can’t believe these pics made it so far LOL,” Smith posted on Facebook with a story that featured him in the mob outside the Capitol.
Smith also had photos of himself wearing a Trump hat alongside his cousin, Wren, carrying a Trump flag in Washington on Jan. 6.
“Oh cuz running with me,” Smith wrote.
The arrests are yet another indication of the huge role that online sleuths are playing in helping the FBI identify the Trump supporters who assaulted police and stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. The FBI has thanked the public for its help and said that authorities are working behind the scenes to follow up on tips, even if the resulting arrests take several months.
One of the sleuths who worked the case told HuffPost back in March that the duo were “hard to miss” in part because of Smith’s old Mississippi flag that featured the Confederate battle flag. That version of the flag was retired in 2020, after 126 years. They said the investigation was truly a group effort by the “Sedition Hunter” community.
Also in March, an online sleuth managed to match a foot seen kicking a police officer to the individual they called #MississippiFlagGuy.
“Add it to the charges,” one sleuth tweeted on March 25.
Smith’s Facebook page is full of pro-Trump memes and debunked conspiracy theories about a stolen election. He called Jan. 6 “a wonderful day [in] Washington” and called on Trump to declare “martial law to fix this election.”
Like many Trump conspiracy theorists who assaulted cops, Smith claimed that a bus of “people dressed like Trump supporters” who were “probably antifa” caused the trouble on Jan. 6.
“I can tell you this Trump people did what was right Patriots did what was right not only did we come here to stand up for our right we came here to stand up for our fellow man and as the day progressed the cops treated [us] worse and worse,” he wrote on Facebook.
“We pretty much got our asses kicked by the cops then we kick the cops asses,” he wrote. “Patriots stood together and battled the tyrannical cops throughout the entire afternoon and as I sit here now at the footsteps of the Capitol they’re still shooting off flashbangs pepper spray and innocent people.”
The FBI has made more than 625 arrests in connection with the Jan. 6 riot, representing about one-fourth of the total universe of suspects who could face charges for their conduct that day. Many more arrests are in the works.