Lawyer with link to 9/11 conspiracy theorists is charged with assaulting police in US Capitol riot
Lawyer John O’Kelly of East Williston, New York, was arrested Oct. 20 and has been charged with assaulting police officers during the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot. Photos from the FBI’s statement of facts.
A 66-year-old New York lawyer has been charged with assaulting police officers during the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot, after a tipster used photo ID software to identify him as a likely suspect.
John O’Kelly of East Williston, New York, was arrested Oct. 20, according to a Department of Justice press release. He was charged with two felonies—assaulting, resisting or impeding officers and interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder. He also faces four misdemeanor charges.
Federal prosecutors allege that O’Kelly tried to wrestle a baton from a police officer, according to the press release and an FBI agent’s statement of facts. When O’Kelly didn’t succeed, he pushed a metal bike rack into a line of officers, federal prosecutors say.
NBC News and Law.com are among the publications that covered the arrest.
According to NBC News, O’Kelly had worked as an attorney for the Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, which thinks that the World Trade Center collapsed Sept. 11, 2001, because of preplanted explosives, rather than terrorists flying planes into the Twin Towers. The litigation director of the Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry told NBC News that O’Kelly is no longer with the group.
The FBI had released a photo of the suspect to seek the public’s help in identifying him. The FBI called the suspect “BOLO 294,” which stands for “Be on the Lookout,” but users of the Twitter account @SeditionHunters dubbed him #MidWhiteCrisis to gather information about him.
The FBI received an online tip in July 2021 that said open-source photo ID software identified O’Kelly as a likely match. The FBI then used driver’s license photos of O’Kelly and facial recognition software, which also indicated a match.
A longtime friend of the O’Kelly family also identified the photographed suspect as O’Kelly. When the FBI spoke with O’Kelly at his home, they determined that they had the correct person.
O’Kelly had a reservation at a hotel near the Capitol for Jan. 5, 2021.