J6 rioter with a pattern of sexual assault went from rallying with the Proud Boys to recruiting for the Base
Michael Jones participating in a banner drop with the white supremacist group Patriot Front in Columbia, SC in 2021. (Video screengrab courtesy of Unicorn Riot)

Michael Alan Jones had marched with the Proud Boys at rallies in North Carolina and Washington, DC in late 2020 as the far-right street-fighting gang exploded in popularity with Donald Trump’s apparent endorsement “Stand back and stand by.”

On Jan. 6, 2021, Jones joined a fight at the West Plaza and pulled away barricades at a police line before going inside the Capitol and carrying out a broken furniture leg. Despite his involvement in the attack on the Capitol, the only legal repercussion he faced was a misdemeanor arrest by the DC Metropolitan police later that evening for violating curfew.

Later that year, Jones programmed handheld radios for a headline-grabbing rally held by the white supremacist group Patriot Front in DC in December 2021, and taught members how to march in formation.

By February 2022, Jones was living in Charlotte, NC and had reached an inflection point.

Three weeks later, Jones made his final post on Telegram and then on an Instagram account. On March 19, Jones was pulled over while driving a gray 2006 Nissan Sentra through a small town outside of Rochester, NY. Riding in the passenger seat was a man identified only as “PK” in federal court documents. The deputies found a mobile arsenal of compound bows, knives, body armor, an AR-15 rifle and what police described as burglary tools in the car.

The traffic stop resulted in state charges due to modifications on the rifle that were illegal under New York state law. But federal investigators already knew or discovered sometime later that Jones had been convicted of felony stemming from a 2017 arrest in North Carolina in which Jones was accused of having sex with two different girls who were 15 and 14 when he was 19 and 18, respectively. Due to his felony conviction, he was not allowed to have firearms. On June 3, 2022, a federal magistrate issued a warrant, and federal court record show that Jones was arrested in North Carolina the same day.

Despite his involvement with two high-profile hate groups — one of which, the Proud Boys, is the focus of a seditious conspiracy trial in DC next month — and his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, Jones’ arrest in June occasioned little fanfare from the Department of Justice. The charging documents make no mention of Jones’ extremist activity with the two groups. That was uncovered by a team of volunteer researchers conducting an open-source investigation of the Jan. 6 attack and antifascists who monitor far-right extremism in North Carolina.

Jones’ lawyer was set to plead guilty to the charge of unlawfully possessing a firearm as a felon in federal court in Rochester on Monday, but the hearing was canceled because he was in the hospital. Jones was hospitalized for treatment of MRSA, a bacterial infection that resists antibiotics.

“His infection is very severe and he needs to remain at the hospital for about the next two weeks receiving intravenous antibiotics,” Slawinski wrote. “He also tested positive for COVID-19 last week while in the hospital. His condition is serious and it is possible that his leg may have to be amputated if the infection spreads further.”

On Wednesday, Judge Mark Pedersen set a new status hearing for Jones on Jan. 10, 2023.

The firearms offense for which the 24-year-old Jones awaits sentencing does not account for a more wide-ranging and arguably more troubling set of activities — an incendiary social media presence encouraging violence and recruitment on behalf of a white supremacist terror organization, cultivation of what he described as “followers” around the globe, and an investigation for rape and sexual assault of a minor with a “mental handicap.”

Raw Story has confirmed that in November 2021, during a period when he was active with Patriot Front, Jones referred his followers on Telegram to the Base, a white supremacist group that has been implicated in an assassination plot and has been designated a terrorist organization in Canada and Australia.

Within the universe of far-right groups, the Base is considered more extreme than even the Proud Boys, who are known for brawling with left-wing counter-protesters and harassing drag shows, and Patriot Front, which has a history of vandalizing spaces that honor LGBTQ and Black people and for tightly choreographed flash-mob demonstrations.

Founded in 2018 by Rinaldo Nazzaro, a former US Department of Homeland Security employee who now lives in Russia, the Base is an accelerationist group that anticipates societal collapse and is preparing to engage in an armed insurgency against the United States with the goal of establishing a white ethno-state. In recent months, Nazzaro has used his Telegram account to encourage Trump supporters to secede from the United States.

Nazzaro frequently shares articles from the Russian state-controlled media network RT on his Telegram account. In a recent message, he denied being a Russian asset, saying that he chooses to live there “for family reasons.”

In addition to linking Jones to the Base, Raw Story has confirmed that shortly after he attended a December 2021 rally in DC with Patriot Front, a 17-year-old girl diagnosed with autism came to stay with Jones at his house on Welford Road in Charlotte. The girl, who Raw Story is not identifying, posted on Instagram that she “basically almost got trafficked” and a news bulletin reported that an unidentified person bought her a bus ticket to Charlotte.

On Feb. 2, 2022, the Charlotte police made a service call to the house where Jones lived for an “attempt to locate.” An incident report provided to Raw Story by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department indicates that a “rape/sexual assault” involving a 17-year-old female with a “mental handicap” was assigned to a detective for investigation, but the case was “exceptionally cleared” because the “victim chose not to prosecute.”

Raw Story confirmed Jones’ residence by matching the Welford Road address on the police incident report to the address reported by the Genesee County Sheriff’s office when he was arrested during a traffic stop in upstate New York in March.

Raw Story has made contact with the alleged victim, but she declined to comment on the incident.

Jones’ social media posts encouraging followers to join the Base preceded the alleged sexual assault in Charlotte. Commenting on a message from Nazzaro about the Waukesha, Wisc. car-ramming attack, Jones pitched enlistment with the Base as a way for white people to join a “local crew” of “like-minded individuals” prepared “to watch each other’s backs.” Jones advised his Telegram followers that if they were “still looking for a local crew, the Base can help link you up,” while linking to a Telegram channel associated with the group.

He added that Patriot Front or NSC-131, a neo-Nazi group based in New England, would also suffice, warning that if his followers refused to “make some friends who put race first,” they would “die and get tortured to death.”

The fear-based appeal in Jones’ message echoes the Great Replacement, a conspiracy theory holding that white people face genocide, but takes it a step further. While purveyors of the Great Replacement theory — including a variation promoted by Fox News host Tucker Carlson — typically argue, falsely, that white people are being replaced through birth rates and immigration, Jones’ appeal implies that people of color are literally plotting to kill white people.

Raw Story was able to match the Telegram account encouraging followers to join the Base with Jones — which is still open and Raw Story is not naming — through biographical details that are unique to him.

As previously reported by Raw Story, while riding back home to North Carolina from the December 2021 rally in DC with a fellow Patriot Front member, Jones started experiencing acute pain in his legs, and was dropped off at a hospital in Virginia.

In a message shared on his Telegram account on Dec. 11, Jones wrote: “I would like to apologize to all my international and European followers who were planning on meeting me during December and January. I will be unable to leave the US seeing as both of my legs are broken, I can’t walk, I am in incredible amounts of pain, and my left leg still has muscle tissue just hanging out of it.”

Jones’ interest in radio communications, which was revealed through internal chats leaked to Unicorn Riot also links him to the Telegram account.

Conferring with Patriot Front leader Thomas Rousseau in the runup to the Dec. 4 DC rally, Jones provided a list of Patriot Front “network directors” who would be allocated Baofeng UV-5R radios.

“As far as the new comms standards go, I think the manuals we have are a phenomenal beginning,” Jones told Rousseau. “We have the ‘How-To-UV-5R,’ we have the ‘How to talk on the radio and be smart about it,’ and we have the software needed to program the radios when they are at the December event.”

Two months later, Jones shared a PDF of “How-To-UV-5R” on his Telegram channel, along with a separate manual that included a nine-page section with subhead, “Basics of Operating a Baofeng UV-5R Radio.”

Jones appears to have been released from the hospital in Wytheville in late December 2021 or early January 2022, and returned to Charlotte. The incident report on file with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department indicates that the alleged rape/sexual assault took place sometime between Dec. 27 and Feb. 2, while a local news story reports that a 17-year-old girl consistent with the victim went missing on Jan. 18.

Slawinski, Jones’ lawyer, declined to comment for this story on his client’s behalf.

One day after the Charlotte police located the 17-year-old girl at the residence, Jones posted a video on his Telegram account that displayed the text: “S***’s f***ed. Stand by.”

Raw Story also reviewed one of Jones’ Instagram accounts, which displays overt support for white power ideology as well as violent antipathy towards women and anti-trans hate. One anti-trans post made just four days after the police visited Jones home and returned the 17-year-old girl to her family reflects a striking lack of self-awareness.

“Make kids racist again, not trans,” Jones wrote. “Nothing in this world more evil and worthy of excruciating pain than someone who abuses the innocent.”

A spokesperson for the FBI declined to comment on whether Jones is under investigation for his links to the Base or the alleged sexual assault.

Jones’ Instagram posts in the weeks following the visit by Charlotte police to his house reflect an increasing preoccupation with violence, including outright calling for war and death.

Several of the posts promote anti-police violence, including a declaration of brotherhood with anyone who has punched a riot cop, regardless of ideology. In one post, he fantasized about filming an officer during a traffic stop so that he could dox him and “say hi to his wife and kids.” In at least two posts, he expressed the desire to see police officers “hang.”

In a post addressed to “any Canadian followers of mine,” Jones made an explicitly accelerationist appeal in response to the police crackdown against the blockade of Ottawa earlier this year. “Nothing will happen unless you and people like us make it happen,” he wrote, baselessly claiming that the state was preparing to kill people for “wrongthink.”

Without admitting to his presence at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, Jones celebrated the attack.

“There might have been a handful of agents in the crowd but they lost control of the crowd and things got worse than they anticipated,” Jones wrote on Instagram. “They anticipated letting in a door or two and making that look like the end of the world. But the doors got smashed down and people f***ed around in offices and threw paperwork around for fun. There were lots of based people and heroes in that crowd, and they did more than you could ever dream to do unless you’re working on some cool plans that no one else needs to hear about.”

In another post, Jones alluded to his experience rallying with the Proud Boys. He said that some of the gang’s chapters “are pure natsoc and wignat,” shorthand for national socialist and white nationalist, adding that “some are a little less cool but still.” He recommended the gang as “a local group of guys you can drink with or at least rely on heavily.”

Responding to a fellow white supremacist disparaged one-time Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio as a “black FBI informant,” Jones claimed in the post that Tarrio “was only ever leader in name only haha.”

On Feb. 20, Jones used his Telegram account to share PDFs of dozens of texts, imploring his followers to “read them” and “take in the skills and knowledge.” They included Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler and the antisemitic forgery Protocols of the Elders of Zion, manifestos written by mass shooters, and tactical manuals with titles like Tactical Combat Casualty Care and Getaway: Driving Techniques for Escape and Evasion.

Within days, Jones’ Telegram messages and Instagram posts abruptly stopped.

On March 19, according to an affidavit sworn by an FBI special agent, Genesee County sheriff’s deputies stopped a gray Nissan Sentra in the town of Leroy, about 25 miles outside of Rochester, after observing the driver fail to signal before turning and “vehicle maneuvering consistent with eluding.”

The deputies identified Michael Jones as the driver. Inside the car, they reportedly found several knives, military surplus gear, two compound bows, bolt cutters, pry bars, gloves and ammunition. Later, after deputies towed the vehicle from the scene, they found a Palmetto State Armory AR-15 rifle, a 30-round magazine, more knives, Baofeng handheld radios and the Army Tactical Combat Casualty Care handbook.

The deputies elicited from Jones that he had brought the rifle from North Carolina to New York.

In April, an FBI agent interviewed a man who had worked with Jones at the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Mebane, NC. The man eventually admitted that he had purchased the Palmetto State Armory rifle for Jones.

On June 3, Special Agent John T. Dentz with the FBI Rochester Resident Agency filed an affidavit in support of a criminal complaint against Jones, and a federal magistrate in the Western District of New York signed an arrest warrant. By the end of the day, Jones was in federal custody.

Publisher of Queen City Nerve, Justin LaFrancois, contributed reporting for this story.