The FBI said in charging documents that airline and hotel records showed Stapp, 44, traveled to Washington on Jan. 5, 2021, and returned to Mississippi on Jan. 7, 2021. Photos gathered by the FBI show a man identified as Stapp giving a television interview outside the Capitol before the riot began. Other photos, including Capitol security footage, show a man who they believe to be Stapp, wearing a beanie with the words “Legalize freedom,” entering the restricted building alongside hundreds of others.
Stapp in private messages from his Facebook account, using the name Rambo Stappers SP, boasted of entering the Capitol on Jan. 6 and sent photos to at least one other user privately from inside the building.
“It was one of the best things I have ever gotten to do,” Stapp wrote in a message the morning of Jan. 7, 2021, according to the FBI. “That was history. We took over the ... [Capitol]. Shows them what a small percentage of unarmed Americans can do. Just think of all the patriots came and [came] armed.”
The Air Force said Friday that it was aware of Stapp’s arrest and was providing “full support” to the FBI and Justice Department in the case. An Air Force Reserve spokesman described Stapp as a former full-time pilot for Keesler’s 403rd Wing who was “not actively participating in the unit.”
On social media pages linked to Stapp, the officer described himself as a Hurricane Hunter pilot. His military records provided Friday by the Air Force do not define the type of aircraft that he has piloted during his 26 years in the service. The Hurricane Hunters are assigned to the 403rd Wing’s 53rd Reconnaissance Squadron, which flies specially outfitted C-130 cargo planes into the eyes of hurricanes and tropical storms to provide U.S. officials with up-to-date data about the storms.
Stapp’s Air Force records show since entering the Reserve force in September 1997, he has racked up dozens of personal and unit awards. Stapp’s awards indicate he participated in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Among his various awards, Stapp received the Air Medal, which is awarded for “single acts of heroism or meritorious achievements while participating in aerial flight ... in actual combat in support of operations,” according to the Air Force.
Stapp was not accused of committing violence during the deadly Jan. 6 riot, which saw dozens of attackers assault U.S. Capitol police as they attempted to stop the official certification of President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory over Trump. Nearly 1,000 individuals have been charged with crimes for their roles in the attack, according to GWU’s Program on Extremism.
Stapp could not be reached for comment Friday, and court documents did not identify an attorney representing him in the case.
Court documents describe the counts against Stapp as entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in a Capitol Building or grounds, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol Building. It was unclear Friday when he would appear in court.
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