Politics

Who is Ray Epps? The FBI’s Capitol riot figure who has not been charged

The Federal Bureau of Investigation “can’t say” who Ray Epps is, and the Justice Department won’t share any information on why he was removed from a list of potential suspects in the US Capitol riot.

The two agencies’ responses to the curious case of their former person of interest, identified in photo No 16 in an FBI list of people whom the feds wanted to identify, provided more fodder for speculation after the select committee investigating the January 6 riot outright denied he was a federal agent or informant.

“Mr Epps informed us that he was not employed by, working with, or acting at the direction of any law enforcement agency on January 5th or 6th or at any other time, and that he has never been an informant for the FBI or any other law enforcement agency,” a select committee spokesperson said.

The statement came after the FBI and Justice Department leadership refused to confirm or deny, under oath, whether Mr Epps was working with federal authorities or whether they knew why he hasn’t been charged in connection to the violence.

Mr Epps has become the latest flashpoint in the battle for narrative control over writing and rewriting the cause and consequences of the 2021 riot at the US Capitol.

To the right, Mr Epps has been cast as a “fed-protected provocateur“ based mostly on his disappearance from the FBI’s most-wanted list without charge despite appearing in multiple videos on January 5 and 6.

To the left, he is a central figure in an attempt to reframe the attack as a false flag “Fedsurrection” that is little more than a conspiracy theory to shift blame away from Donald Trump and his supporters.

Ray Epps, identified by the FBI as ‘Suspect 16’, appears in video before the 6 January Capitol riot

The 60-year-old retired marine is an owner of Rocking R Farms and an associated wedding venue on the Arizona property called the Knotty Barn run with his wife Robyn, 63, according to The Daily Mail.

He was listed as the president of the Arizona Oath Keepers as recently as 2011, but it was unclear if he was still affiliated with the group at the time of the US Capitol riot.

Days after the 6 January riot, Mr Epps told The Arizona Republic he travelled to DC for the occasion but that he had been advised by an attorney not to speak about it.

The Republic reports that a live stream by social media personality “Baked Alaska” the night before the riot showed a man resembling Mr Epps saying he despises Black Lives Matter and Antifa, and that he has “stood them down myself”.

No evidence has ever emerged that Mr Epps entered the US Capitol building on 6 January, or that he was connected to federal law enforcement agencies leading up to the attack.

Claims that he is an undercover agent are based on speculation as to why he has not been charged in connection to the attack despite seemingly appearing on the FBI’s roster of people they wanted to interview.

Mr Epps’s image was included on the FBI Capitol Violence most wanted list, but it was removed around July last year.

While there is any number of reasons as to why he is no longer on the FBI’s list or hasn’t been charged, none have been given by either Mr Epps’s attorneys or the authorities.

Of the small number of other potential suspects removed from the lists, two were identified as photo journalists, two were minors, one was arrested and charged, while others were given designations or moved to other lists, like Californian Evan Neumann who fled to Belarus.

The vacuum of corroborated facts about the person identified by the FBI in photograph “16” has been filled with speculation stemming from a video showing crowds chanting “Fed! Fed! Fed!” after Mr Epps said on 5 January, “Tomorrow, we need to go into the Capitol”.

On 6 January, a man appearing to be Mr Epps yells: “OK, folks, spread the word! As soon as the president is done speaking, we go to the Capitol. The Capitol is this direction.”

The theory entered the mainstream when Republican Thomas Massie questioned Attorney General Merrick Garland in October last year, showing the video compilation of Mr Epps purportedly rallying the crowds.

When The Daily Mail caught up with Mr Epps at his Arizona ranch, they asked if he was involved with the FBI.

“Get off my property,” he replied.




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