Over two years since a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters rioted at the U.S. Capitol, a small but growing number are on the run after being hit with federal charges for their involvement in the attack.
Federal authorities have launched an ongoing dragnet to identify and detain individuals wanted for crimes that took place at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, in the wake of Trump’s election loss. Despite these efforts, several of those identified on video footage remain at large, while others, who have been identified, arrested, and are facing charges, have decided to try their luck on the lam — including at least one man who has fled abroad to claim political asylum.
This week, the U.S. issued arrest warrants for accused Capitol rioters Olivia Michele Pollock and Joseph Daniel Hutchinson, who, while out on bail, slipped their ankle monitors and escaped days before they were supposed to go on trial. They became the fifth and sixth Capitol rioters to flee following their arrests — with four of those still on the loose.
Pollock’s brother, Jonathan Daniel Pollock, was one of those already on the run from charges related to his own involvement in the riot, where he is alleged to have shown up in combat gear and physically attacked several Capitol Police officers.
The Pollock siblings and Hutchinson, all of whose whereabouts are unknown, were seen in footage of January 6 wearing tactical vests and engaging in clashes with police, as the authorities attempted to keep rioters out of the Capitol building.
A few of the people arrested were kept in pre-trial confinement awaiting trial, with allegations by some lawyers that their conditions have been punitive and entailed violations of their civil rights.
A few former fugitives who, like the Pollock siblings and Hutchinson, went on the run after being hit with charges have since turned themselves in or been recaptured by authorities. Among those are Michael Gareth Adams, a Virginia man seen on footage from the Capitol brandishing a skateboard, who turned himself in last month, and Darrell Neely of North Carolina, who was arrested last fall after failing to show up to court hearings and allegedly selling his house in anticipation of fleeing the country.
The most bizarre of all the Capitol riot fugitive stories, however, is the case of Evan Neumann. A January 6 participant who was seen helping shove a metal barricade past a line of police officers, Neumann fled the U.S. to Italy in the aftermath of the riot, traveling onward to Belarus where he applied for political asylum.
In the spring of 2022, Neumann was granted asylum by the dictatorial government of Alexander Lukashenko. Before his asylum came through, though, Neumann appeared on Belarusian state television for a special titled “Goodbye America,” where he claimed that the Capitol riot had been staged and that he faced torture if returned back to the United States.
Neumann had previously been charged in connection with an incident where he and his brother entered an evacuation area during a fire to retrieve personal possessions. A local news story about the 2018 incident referred to him as a “self-described libertarian.”
According to later reports, the incident, which, according to Neumann’s statements, involved guns being brandished by National Guard members at him and his brother, sowed a sense of grievance on his part against the government. Neumann acted as his own attorney in that case and eventually pleaded guilty in exchange for community service and a fine.
The U.S. government crackdown against participants in the Capitol riot continues, over two years after the attack.
The FBI has released photos of others it believes committed crimes during the attack to solicit public help in identifying and arresting culprits, while the riot itself and the fate of the arrested participants has become a political football between Democrats and some Republicans.
The defiance of those currently on the run from charges is unlikely to endear them further to law enforcement agencies and the Justice Department. Many rioters, including the notorious “QAnon Shaman,” have received significant prison terms already, and more such sentences are likely to come.
Neumann likely feared this outcome when he made the decision to sell his Mill Valley, California, home for $1.3 million and flee the country in 2021, rather than face trial for his role in the attack.
“They added my picture to the FBI’s most wanted list of criminals, asking for the public’s help to identify me. I knew I would be identified immediately,” Neumann said, according to a transcript of his Belarusian television segment. “So the first thing I did was to leave my place.”