Feds arrest Florida man caught on camera carrying Pelosi’s lectern during Capitol riot

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Jessica De Leon
·3 min read
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Florida resident Adam Christian Johnson, the man captured in viral photo carrying Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern from House chambers during the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, has been arrested.

Johnson, 36, was arrested by Federal Marshals and booked into the Pinellas County jail shortly after 9 p.m. Friday.

He has been charged with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; one count of theft of government property; and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, according to a federal complaint. A warrant was issued on Friday and Johnson was charged in federal court in D.C. on Saturday.

Pelosi’s lectern had been stored in her suite, under a staircase to the third floor on the House side of the Capitol building, before the Capitol was breached, her staff told FBI agents.

The lectern — valued at more than $1,000 according to the House curator — was found by Senate staff on Thursday in the Red corridor of the Senate wing off the Rotunda in the Capitol.

Johnson was among three men who were charged on Saturday morning for their alleged roles in the insurrection at the Capitol.

Adam Christian Johnson was booked into the Pinellas County jail late Friday.
Adam Christian Johnson was booked into the Pinellas County jail late Friday.

Johnson will make his first appearance in court on Monday afternoon in The Sam M. Gibbons United States Courthouse in Tampa.

The FBI had been searching for Johnson, who was quickly identified on social media by local residents as the man seen in the photo carrying the lectern during the riot.

Johnson is a stay-at-home-dad who lives with his wife, a local physician, and their five children in their Parrish home.

Before being deleted or taken down, Johnson’s social media accounts included posts that he was in Washington, D.C., ahead of the riots. In one, he disparaged the Black Lives Matter movement and law enforcement officers who defend First Amendment protected rights.

Another 13 suspects were identified by the U.S. Department of Justice on Friday as having been already charged in federal court for their alleged roles in the riot. Complaints have been filed against others, but those remain under seal.

Among the federal charges filed against those 13 suspects — and that Johnson also could face — are knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and theft of public money, property, or records, which carries a punishment of up to 10 years in prison.

During a press call on Friday afternoon, Steven D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, stressed these charges were just the beginning and that the FBI would spare no resource. This investigation, he said, is a priority for the entire FBI.

“Make no mistake, our work here is not done,” D’Antuono said. “Just because you left the D.C. region, you can still expect a knock on the door if we find out that you were part of the criminal activity at the Capitol.”

On Friday, FBI special agents following up on some tips from Manatee County as part of their “all-hands-on-deck” effort across the country to investigate those responsible for the riot.

Allan Mestel, a photographer in Bradenton, was among those contacted by FBI agents in response to a tip. Mestel knows Johnson through a mutual association, he explained.

“I do know some details about his relationship and the problems they have had with his extreme right views, which has now come to a head,” Mestel said. “Once I saw the picture of him with Nancy Pelosi’s podium, I knew it was him.”