A former Marine who once went viral for his role in rescuing dogs from rising floodwaters has been charged with attacking a federal officer and inciting violence during the Jan. 6 uprising on Capitol Hill.
Ryan Nichols, 30, from Longview, Texas, was caught on camera pepper spraying a law enforcement official and using a bullhorn to encourage his fellow rioters to deploy weapons against authorities, according to court documents.
It was a far cry from Nichols’ last brush with fame. He appeared on the “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” in 2018 after he was caught on camera rescuing six abandoned dogs from Hurricane Florence flooding in North Carolina, NBC News reports.
At the time, Nichols said he was compelled to travel across the country to provide aid after his home and business were flooded during Hurricane Harvey the year before.
Now, Nichols’ most recent cross-country trip has resulted in charges that include civil disorder, conspiracy and unlawful entry with a dangerous weapon, according to Department of Justice records.
The former military man was arrested for his role in the deadly riot on Monday in Texas. He is being held at the Smith County Jail in Tyler.
A criminal complaint against Nichols and his friend Alex Kirk Harkrider, 32, — who has also been arrested — said the FBI was alerted to social media photos and videos showing the pair breaching the statehouse.
One photo is captioned “We’re in.”
“We ain’t done yet! We just got started!” says another caption.
In another post, Nichols wrote: “Patriots stood their ground today!”
“We aren’t done yet, either! You want to steal our election, and not hear us in court? Good! Now you’ll hear our civil unrest!” the post said, according to the affidavit.
The complaint alleges that video shared on social media shows Nichols brandishing a crowbar and yelling into a bullhorn to rile up the rioters to commit violence. In the clip, Nichols is on the ledge of a broken window in the Capitol, before tresspassing into the building.
“If you have a weapon, you need to get your weapon!” Nichols yelled. “This is the second revolution right here folks! This is not a peaceful protest,” he his heard saying on the clip, according to the complaint.
Nichols was also caught on video spraying what appears to be pepper spray at an unknown agent guarding the Capitol building, court papers said.
Meanwhile, Harkrider posted on Snapchat: “We’re in. 2 people killed already. We need all the patriots of this country to rally the f— up and fight for our freedom or it’s gone forever. Give us liberty, or give us death. We won’t stand for it.”
The photo Harkrider posted appears to show him carrying a baton, documents said.
Investigators said Nichols operated a second Facebook page promoting violence against lawmakers.
One post on the page showed a picture of a bullet with a caption reading: “By Bullet or Ballot, Restoration of the Republic is Coming.”
A Dec. 28. post on Nichols’ secondary page read: “Pence better do the right thing, or we’re going to MAKE you do the right thing,” the criminal complaint said.
The cover page on Nichols’ Facebook profile was a picture of him being praised as a hero on his “Ellen” television appearance, according to NBC. An error message from Facebook said “We’re temporarily hiding some results for this search query,” when the Post searched for his profile.
More than 100 people have been arrested for their role in the riots, which left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer.
Authorities have promised to make hundreds of additional arrests.