Former Marine who went viral for rescuing dogs during Hurricane Florence arrested for role in Capitol riot

Former Marine who went viral for rescuing dogs during Hurricane Florence arrested for role in Capitol riot
A Facebook post by Ryan Nichols is being used as evidence by the FBI for his role in the violence that took place at the Capitol on Jan. 6 (Source: FBI)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WECT) - The former Marine who went viral for his efforts rescuing six dogs in Leland during Hurricane Florence has been arrested and charged for his role in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, NBC News reports.

Ryan Nichols, 30, is from Longview, Texas and previously appeared on the Ellen Degeneres’ show ‘Ellen’ where she surprised him with a $25,000 donation to the Humane Society along with a trip to Hawaii for the rescue efforts.

Now, Nichols is facing a number of charges including conspiracy and unlawful entry with a dangerous weapon; violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds; aiding and abetting; civil disorder; and assault on a federal officer using a deadly or dangerous weapon, according to an affidavit filed by the federal government.

Nichols was booked into the Smith County Jail on Jan. 18, according to jail records on a federal detainer for the FBI.

He is being charged in conjunction with Alex Kirk Harkrider for their roles in the events that took place on Jan. 6 and the FBI received information leading to their arrests from a tip submitted by a witness.

“On January 7, 2021, a witness (“W-1”) contacted the FBI’s National Threat Operations Center (“NTOC”) to report Ryan Nichols of Longview, Texas, and Alex Harkrider of Converse, Texas, as identified by W-1 on Facebook, as two persons who broke into the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021,” according to an affidavit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

That witness told the FBI that they had observed social media posts that showed both Nichols and Harkrider at the U.S. Capitol during the assault.

“W-1 provided several images that W-1 captured from Nichols’ Facebook account that are consistent with other media recovered by the FBI depicting both men at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021,” according to the affidavit.

“During its investigation, the FBI conducted open source Internet searches of social media, news, and other media for information pertaining to Nichols and Harkrider. Investigators located photographs, including screenshots of Nichols’ Facebook page, and video posted on the Internet depicting both men present and engaged in criminal activity during the assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.”

The FBI is using several posts from Nichols' Facebook as evidence in the case against him.
The FBI is using several posts from Nichols' Facebook as evidence in the case against him. (Source: FBI)

Photos obtained by the FBI also show Nichols with a bullhorn and crowbar, and was seen and heard on video encouraging the crowd to get weapons.

“In a video obtained online, Nichols can be identified in the crowd at the U.S. Capitol based on his appearance and distinct clothing, and he can be seen and heard yelling into the bullhorn in the direction of the large crowd, ‘If you have a weapon, you need to get your weapon!’ As shown in another video, Nichols can be seen and heard yelling, ‘This is the second revolution right here folks! […] This is not a peaceful protest,’ according to the affidavit.

Other images show Nichols taking an aerosol canister, believed to be OC pepper spray, and discharging it at the entrance of the U.S. Capitol building where law enforcement officers were attempting to restrain people attempting to gain entry into the building, another image shows both men inside.

“Additional images ... depict Nichols and Harkrider outside the U.S. Capitol building and apparently inside the building, based on the identifiable arched Capitol window and other contents of the photo,” according to the affidavit.

The affidavit was filed with the court on Jan. 17., Nichols was arrested the next day, and according to jail records there is no listed release date for him.

Copyright 2021 WECT. All rights reserved.