Federal agents have charged four more Tennesseans linked to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump.
The arrests came in the days and hours before an anticipated rally of Trump’s supporters at the Tennessee State Capitol. But, as in many other states, that demonstration did not materialize, with journalists, police and other onlookers vastly outnumbering protesters.
The arrests began late Friday when the FBI took Matthew Bledsoe in Memphis into custody. He was followed by Jack Jesse Griffith in Gallatin on Saturday morning, Lisa Eisenhart in Nashville on Saturday afternoon and Blake Austin Reed in Nashville on Sunday morning. Agents again used social media posts to aid in the identifications.
Bledsoe, Griffith and Eisenhart face charges of entering a restricted building and engaging in disorderly conduct that disrupted government business. Eisenhart, the mother of a Nashville man who was arrested last week after he was identified carrying zip ties inside the Capitol, faces additional charges of conspiracy and civil disorder. Details on Reed’s charges were not yet available.
Agents reviewed a series of videos from Bledsoe’s Instagram account that include selfies of him wearing a Trump hat in the crowd outside the Capitol, as well as images of the group moving toward the building and climbing the walls, according to a document signed by a federal judge on Wednesday.
The FBI says the footage shows a man saying, “We’re going in!” as an alarm rings in the background. Bledsoe then aims his camera at the door and says: “In the Capitol. This is our house. We pay for this [expletive]. Where’s those pieces of [expletive] at?”
Later footage shows Bledsoe inside the building.
Agents matched Bledsoe’s selfies to his driver’s license photo, as well as a post on his wife’s Facebook page in which she writes, “Matt was inside the Capitol, he was one of the first.”
The FBI used the same Instagram video to identify Griffith, who goes by the name Juan Bibiano on Facebook, according to a document released by the Department of Justice.
One of the clips in Bledsoe’s Instagram video features a man wearing glasses and a Make America Great Again hat as he “screams in excitement.”
An informant who knows Griffith identified him as the man in glasses and provided the posts from his Facebook account, including a photo of him wearing the same clothing captured in the Instagram video. In another post, Griffith wrote, “I even helped storm the capitol today, but it only made things worse.” Agents also matched Griffith’s photos on social media to his driver’s license photo.
Reed was also matched through social media. The U.S. attorney’s office for Middle Tennessee released a post that appears to show Reed and Bledsoe posing for a selfie inside the Capitol.
Capitol Riot arrest-Blake A. Reed was arrested this morning by FBI agents in Nashville on charges relating to the U.S. Capitol Riots. pic.twitter.com/nUMf9OKhco
— U.S Attorney-Middle District of Tennessee (@USAO_MDTN) January 17, 2021
Griffith, 25, and Reed, 35, were booked at the Davidson County jail while they await transfer to federal custody. The FBI has arrested several dozen people nationwide and is seeking tips as it searches for others in the crowd that day.
Authorities share new details on ‘zip tie guy’
In a new document posted Saturday, authorities say they searched his home on Jan. 10 and found distinctive clothing items that appear to match what he wore in the Senate chambers, including a Black Rifle Coffee Company hat and five pairs of white flex cuffs.
An affidavit says Munchel and Eisenhart were filmed “in the vicinity of a mob of individuals that are physically attacking two Capitol Police officers,” and when the officers fled, the two joined the mob in pursuit. Authorities say both were holding flex cuffs at that time.
The officers escaped, at which point Eisenhart shouts at them over a bannister. Additional footage places both in the Senate chambers moments later, authorities say.
Eisenhart, 56, was also booked by the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office over the weekend. Munchel, 30, remains in the sheriff’s custody.
Capitol Riot Arrest-Lisa Eisenhart was taken into custody by FBI Agents in Nashville a short time ago on charges relating to the U.S. Capitol riots. Charges include conspiring with her son, Eric Munchel to violate federal statutes. pic.twitter.com/lgjqrYN8j2
— U.S Attorney-Middle District of Tennessee (@USAO_MDTN) January 16, 2021
Despite preparations, no demonstration at Tennessee State Capitol
By contrast, there was no disorder in Nashville on Sunday, despite days of preparation by law enforcement for a large, armed crowd and the possibility of violence.
The plans were set in motion by social media posts urging Trump’s supporters to gather at all 50 state capitols at noon on Sunday, Jan. 17, and to bring guns. But the source of those posts has been murky, and many pro-Trump activists have denied playing any part. Some have publicly urged the president’s supporters to stay home.
In the event, only a smattering of people showed up at War Memorial Plaza, the large expanse next to the Tennessee State Capitol. WPLN News reporters spotted a lone pickup truck with pro-Trump slogans, along with American and Gasden flags, before the crowd began to disperse.
WPLN News’ Samantha Max, Tony Gonzalez, Damon Mitchell, Rachel Iacovone and Chas Sisk contributed to this report.