St. Louis Cardinals superfan ‘Rally Runner’ pleads guilty to felony in Jan. 6 case

Rally Runner, a St. Louis Cardinals superfan accused of using a police shield to help rioters push officers from a Capitol entrance during the Jan. 6 breach, pleaded guilty Friday to civil disorder, a felony.

Runner, 44, who court records say legally changed his name from Daniel Donnelly Jr., appeared before Judge Jia M. Cobb in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 30.

He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years’ supervised release.

Runner was indicted on charges of civil disorder, a felony, and four misdemeanor counts: disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly conduct in a Capitol building; impeding passage through the Capitol grounds or buildings; and entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds.

The government dropped the other charges in exchange for his guilty plea on the civil disorder charge.

Runner is the 29th Missourian to be convicted in connection with the riot. Of those, 22 have been sentenced, and the cases of seven additional Missouri defendants are pending.

The charging documents referred to Runner as Donnelly, but the court records now call him Rally Runner.

“It appears from a recent review of Daniel Donnelly Jr.’s DMV records he changed his legal name to Rally Runner,” according to a footnote in the charging documents.

A statement of offense signed by Runner said he traveled to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 5, 2021, to attend former President Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6. After the rally, it said, he went to the Capitol, dressed in a “Keep America Great” cap and red jacket with his face painted red.

Runner made his way through the crowd on the Capitol grounds and up to the Lower West Terrace doorway, also known as “the tunnel,” the statement said. The area was filled with rioters, it said, and officers were in the tunnel. The police and rioters faced off at the tunnel entrance as the rioters tried to get into the building.

Runner stood just outside the tunnel, the statement said, helping rioters pass a ladder toward the opening. At about 4:10 p.m., it said, he moved to the front of the crowd at the tunnel’s entrance, holding a police riot shield that he had obtained.

Court documents say authorities identified Daniel Donnelly Jr. — his face painted red — through video footage showing the mob of rioters at the Lower West Terrace tunnel entrance to the Capitol.
Court documents say authorities identified Daniel Donnelly Jr. — his face painted red — through video footage showing the mob of rioters at the Lower West Terrace tunnel entrance to the Capitol.

“Members of the crowd surged toward the police, attacking the officers while Runner held the line,” the statement said. “Other rioters sprayed chemical irritants, threw items, and screamed at law enforcement officers.”

Runner held his position just inches from the confrontation, it said.

“While facing off with officers, Runner used his shield to form a wall with shields held by other rioters,” the document said. “Several other rioters used Runner and his shield as protection, lunging past him to attack police officers.”

The rioters then surged forward, with Runner in the lead, it said.

“For the next several minutes, Runner, surrounded by other rioters, used his shield to push continuously against officers, gaining ground into the tunnel and managing to force the group of police nearly into the Capitol building,” the statement said.

After about 10 minutes, it said, additional officers arrived and helped push Runner and the others out of the tunnel.

“Having been pushed back to the tunnel’s entrance,” the statement said. “Runner peered out on the mass of rioters gathered on the Lower West Terrace. Triumphantly, he raised his fist and arm into the air.”

Later that day, it said, Runner posted a 26-minute video on his Facebook page, describing his actions.

In the video, according to the statement, Runner said, “I get a riot shield, and I’m not trying to cause any violence, but I’m trying to be the furthest person to get through all the way, or at least get the furthest.”

The document said Runner then added: “I took up a lot of space, and I had the rioter shield, and I was right up there, and for some reason, like, the other people up there on the front lines with me, they did something similar.... It’s like they followed my lead, kind of, and it turned out to be a great strategy because the whole crowd was doing that, was able to push further than we had gotten the whole time, the entire time.”

Runner said the rioters pushed police “all the way into the doors.”

“It was working until more cops showed up,” the document quoted Runner as saying. “I’m right at the front of it and got through those doors into the Capitol, and that’s when reinforcements came.”

Runner said “the burning of the mace was horrible, I mean my skin is already sensitive so I think it affected me more than others, but I withstood it pretty well and I was like even when I was inside and I was breathing it in I was like alright I can handle this, this isn’t that bad, I’m not going to let this deter me.”

Then he added: “I got further than anyone, I literally got further than anyone. I helped us get that far.”

The plea agreement said Runner has a criminal record that includes a 2015 conviction for criminal trespass and a 2011 conviction for stealing a motor vehicle along with two counts of attempted tampering with a witness or victim. The 2011 conviction resulted in sentences of five years and six months.

Runner also was convicted in 2011 for theft, which resulted in a five-year prison sentence. And he received five years’ probation for a 2003 conviction for passing bad checks, the plea agreement said. That probation was revoked in 2007, and Runner was sentenced to four years’ in prison and five years’ probation.