FBI arrests Coronado man for alleged role in Capitol riot

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SAN DIEGO — A Coronado man was arrested this week for his alleged participation in the Jan. 6 riot and breach of the U.S. Capitol, the FBI announced Thursday.

Jeffrey Alexander Smith was taken into custody Wednesday morning by agents of the San Diego office of the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, according to a release from the FBI. He is charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building without lawful authority.

He appeared virtually in federal court Thursday afternoon. His bail was set at $25,000 and he’s due for another hearing Feb. 11.

According to court documents, the FBI initially received a tip from a person “who has known Smith for an extended period of time.” That person found a picture on Instagram of Smith inside the Capitol, which depicts Smith in a Trump baseball cap, with his cell phone raised in the air.

Smith, 33, also allegedly showed the witness a video he recorded of himself walking into the Capitol on Jan. 6. The witness could not find any other pictures that Smith posted online because Smith removed his Instagram account a few days after the Capitol breach.

The FBI received another tip from a second witness, who said they grew up with Smith in Coronado. This person had screenshots of text messages from Smith, which read “I’m a Patriot” and “I stormed the capital.” In the text messages, Smith also allegedly stated that he was taking part in the insurrection to send a message that Americans were not “going to take a fraudulent election” and “There is no way in hell I was going to drive 38 hours from San Diego and not walk right through the front of the capital building.”

The Justice Department included this photo, which “depicts Smith wearing a black jacket and a Trump hat, with a red cell phone in his right hand which is raised in the air,” in their formal criminal complaint against the Coronado local. (Photo: U.S. DOJ)

An FBI agent called Smith, who allegedly admitted driving to Washington, D.C., to attend Donald Trump’s speech on Jan. 6. He also admitted walking into the Capitol, where he said he remained for about 30 minutes.

“Mr. Smith did nothing more than enter the Capitol building — he walked in with hundreds, if not thousands of others. No allegations he destroyed any property, committed any violence or did anything more than what he felt at the time was asserting his 1st Amendment right to be heard about how he felt about the election,” said John Rice, Smith’s attorney.

Smith also told the agent that he deleted his Instagram account due to receiving threats over his presence at the Capitol.

Smith’s mother and sister attended the court hearing, but declined to talk to the media.

During the hearing it was revealed Smith is an Iraq War veteran and has two young children who live with his estranged wife in Colorado.

“He’s a decorated war veteran – served honorably in the Army, honorably discharged. He is a young man trying to make it in the world. He’s got young kids and just got carried away in the moment,” said Rice.

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