In one of the most indelible scenes from the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, rioters knocked out a window next to the Lower West Terrace tunnel to break into an office suite and destroy furniture. Rioters broke off table legs and repurposed them as clubs, ripped a door off its hinges and commandeered a table top as makeshift barricade.
As others outside battled a line of riot police at the mouth of the tunnel, the rioters in the adjacent office strategized how to push further into the building.
"What's the floor plan?" one asked.
"We need enough people," another said. "We need to push forward."
About four minutes later, a woman named Rachel Powell from Pennsylvania poked her head into the lower window and spoke into a megaphone.
"Hey guys, I've been in the other room," she said, giving specific directions to an inner office, while mentioning two separate doors and a window that she said would provide access to a lower floor. "So, people should probably coordinate together if you're gonna take this building."
Powell continued: "We've got another window to break to make getting in and out easy."
Based on a comparison of video recorded both outside and inside the Capitol and photos on social media, one the individuals in the office suite appears to be Richard Avirett, a Marine Corps veteran and firearms instructor who lives near Tampa, Fla.
Richard Avirett from his LinkedIn Profile on the right; Screenshot from unedited YouTube video on the left
A YouTube video entitled "They DEFINITELY used tear gas Capitol Protest Riot 1 6 21" shows a man dressed in a tan coat and black Columbia-branded toboggan standing next to a set of risers erected on the Upper West Terrace for the inauguration. The man's eyes, nose and trimmed reddish facial hair bear a striking resemblance to photos of Richard Avirett posted on his LinkedIn and Facebook pages. And while the resolution of the video recorded inside the office with wrecked furniture is not as good, an individual seen in the mob is wearing the same tan coat, black Columbia-branded hat and trimmed reddish facial hair, with the addition of sunglasses.
Avirett emphatically denied in an interview with Raw Story on Thursday that he entered the Capitol building.
"I wasn't even around there," he said, adding that he was "literally putting together a woman's head who got hit by a police officer."
But the location Averitt described when he provided aid to the woman is consistent with the individual in the first video.
"That was at the very top," he said. "I was by the grandstands."
The video shows uniformed officers occupying the risers after apparently expelling the rioters, who can be heard coughing.
They DEFINATELY used tear gas Capitol Protest Riot 1 6 21 A0bCliUpS3M www.youtube.com
"I can't breathe," the rioters chant, while some individually disparaged the officers as "f***ing traitors," "f***ing useless c***suckers" and "bootlickers."
"I don't know why there was a conflict," Avirett told Raw Story. "I didn't see a lot of conflict. The people that I was around were singing 'The Star-Spangled Banner' and 'God Bless America.' I don't think anyone was there to be bad. The people that were around me weren't there to do anything like that. Nobody even knew anything about people going inside when I was there until it was over."
In the second video, which was live-streamed on Periscope by Jeremy Lee Quinn, the man who appears to be Avirett can be seen on the Lower West Terrace wearing the tan coat, black toboggan and sunglasses while facing a window to the left of the tunnel. The glass was already broken out, and other rioters were climbing in.
"They murdered a woman," a he states in the video, apparently referencing Ashli Babbit, who was fatally shot by a US Capitol police officer outside the Speaker's Lobby.
"We will never let our country go to the globalists," another woman says through a megaphone. "George Soros, you can go to hell."
A bearded man with a gas mask propped on his head, addresses fellow rioters outside the window: "Last chance! Who wants to make history with me? Who's a man? Who's a patriot? I'm going into Capitol Hill by myself. Who wants to man the f*** up? Patriots, let's do this right f***ing now."
A little more than three minutes later, the man who appears to be Avirett can be seen standing inside the office surveying the wreckage.
The video shows other rioters remove an inside door from its hinges and move a large tabletop through the doorway. Then they pass the door out the window to the mob outside. The camera shows the man who appears to be Avirett at that moment bending over, as if to pick something up. About 30 minutes later, it shows him walking away from the window, carrying a thin, white rod that appears to be shoe molding or PVC pipe. A Reuters photo taken from outside the Capitol shows the same man standing in the open window holding the rod as the door is passed down into the crowd.
A man who appears to be Richard Avirett carries a rod through an office where rioters wrecked furniture. Screenshot from Unblocked podcast
Moments later, the video shows, Powell addresses the rioters inside, with instructions on how to further penetrate the building. (Powell currently faces multiple charges related to the breach of the Capitol, including obstruction of an official proceeding and engaging in physical violence in a restricted building on grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon.)
As Powell continues to speak, the man who appears to be Avirett can be seen carrying a long rectangular cushion. He is part of a group filmed by Quinn that can be seen moving down an interior hallway. At one point, the man who appears to be Avirett can be seen in a smaller office facing a desk while holding a rectangular object consistent with a computer keyboard. Inside the same office, another rioter uses a stick to try to bash out a window.
About 10 minutes after entering the office, rioters can be seen leaving through the same window. By that time, the video shows, officers had largely cleared the Lower West Terrace.
Last month, Avirett posted a now-deleted photo of the Lower West Terrace from Jan. 6 that shows a Trump flag being thrown at a line of police in riot gear guarding the tunnel entrance.
Screenshot of now-deleted post on Richard Avirett's Facebook page (courtesy of Richard Averitt)
"One day we will look at this picture and know we were right and we had the chance," he wrote.
A friend commented, calling the scene a "false flag."
"A picture is worth a thousand words they say," she wrote. "I beg to differ with this one. This one tells an obvious story of lies and deceit from many parties. Talk about learning experiences lol! I wonder what other false flags are next, 'cause more will come."
Avirett agreed with his friend's assessment that the image gives a false impression while paradoxically lamenting that the rioters didn't go further.
"Yes, as false a picture as this is — and there are many in history with the same false title, I can name several famous ones that inflict emotion but the narrative is completely false — but it won't matter. One day no I [sic] will remember Antifa or BLM and they will look at this picture and that generation will define it, and say when Americans had a chance to take their freedoms back but didn't."
Avirett told Raw Story that he doesn't believe a post he made on Facebook in August should be regarded as an indicator of his frame of mind on Jan. 6.
"When we went on that day, that stuff didn't even go through our mind," he said.
Now, he said, he feels differently.
"After what we've seen since January, the way this country has fallen apart?" he said. "If somebody doesn't see it falling apart from the top down, then they're part of the problem. What I see is what 99 percent of rational people see."
Avirett worked as a private military contractor for Blackwater USA in Iraq from 2004 through 2007, according to his LinkedIn profile. As part of his duties, the profile says Avirett "provided special operations and protection services to Department of Defense, State Department, explosive ordinance disposal, and other clientele in a high-threat environment."
Avirett owns a firearms training center in Hillsborough County, outside of Tampa. A YouTube video describes it as a "firearms and gunfighting academy." Text in the video promotes a motto: "If you can't be safe, be dangerous."
On Jan. 12, the Facebook account for Two Seven, Avirett's firearms training center, posted an advisory in response to the attempted insurrection: "Pick a side and mean it… in the coming days violence and destruction could (I pray diligently not) happen, but if it does, it is meant to look like conservatives are doing it, and it's won't matter the truth; you will be guilty. You're either in or out. Decide now, not when you're in the middle."
Avirett told Raw Story that he has talked to the FBI about his presence at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
"They said, 'Hey, we've got a picture of you,'" he recounted. "I said, 'Yeah?' And I showed them alternate stuff. And they said, 'Okay.'"
Averitt did not elaborate, and he declined to share any materials that purportedly assuaged the FBI's concerns about his conduct.
A spokesperson for the FBI Washington Field Office told Raw Story that the agency is "not able to confirm or deny the existence of an investigation."