Jan 6 rioter dubbed ‘Conan O’Riot’ is finally tracked down and arrested

The former marine faces four misdemeanour charges in connection with the US Capitol attack

Martha McHardy
Friday 06 October 2023 14:28 BST
Jan 6 committee share never-before-seen footage of Capitol riot

An alleged January 6 rioter dubbed 'Conan O'Riot' due to his resemblance to former late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien has been arrested.

Derek Nelson, 30, who was an active-duty US Marine from October 2011 to September 2015, was tracked down and arrested by the FBI on Wednesday in Illinois, according to federal court records.

He faces four misdemeanour charges in connection with the US Capitol attack, along with his co-defendant Derek Dodder.

The 30-year-old was dubbed #ConanORiot for his red hair, with online “Sedition Hunters“ using the hashtag to track his movements at the Capitol.

Mr Nelson was near the front lines at the Capitol on January 6 as a pro-Trump mob chased down outnumbered officers on the west side of the building, according to the FBI.

Derek Nelson was seen at the Capitol wearing colonial attire
Derek Nelson was seen at the Capitol wearing colonial attire (Joseph Prezioso / AFP via Getty Images)

The 30-year-old was seen at the Capitol wearing colonial attire, including “a brown tricorn hat along with a blue double-breasted button coat and red or maroon undershirt with a white scarf around his neck,” the FBI said.

He was seen in video footage cited by the FBI telling a videographer he had gathered at the Washington Monument where President Trump was due to speak, to “start a revolution”.

Mr Nelson was allegedly recorded on video inside the capitol wearing goggles and a respirator mask. The FBI said the video also shows him running away after another rioter set off a fire extinguisher near the doors to the House of Representatives, which were barricaded as members fled the violent mob.

Derek Nelson pictured inside the Capitol
Derek Nelson pictured inside the Capitol (US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia)

Mr Nelson was ordered by a judge on Wednesday not to travel outside the US without court approval and banned from possessing a firearm, destructive device, or other weapon.

He is due to make a virtual appearance before a federal judge in Washington DC on 17 October.

On his podcast “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend,” the comedian said January 6 was an upsetting day “for any sentient American“.

Insurrections loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021
Insurrections loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021 (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

In a podcast last month, he said the biggest crime former president Trump, who has been indicted four times this year, has committed is his impact on comedy.

“I’m really going out on a limb here saying — that’s his greatest crime,” O’Brien joked. “I think he’s hurt political comedy by being so outlandish himself. I think the Jan. 6 thing is a blip compared to how much he’s hurt comedy.”

More than 1,000 people have been charged by federal prosecutors in connection with the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

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