Once hailed as ‘unsung hero,’ ex-Marine from NJ charged in D.C. riot
A Marine veteran who was once described as an "unsung hero" is the latest New Jersey resident charged in connection with the insurrection at the Capitol.
Hector Vargas Santos, of Jersey City, was identified by a neighbor who saw him in a photo climbing a Capitol wall during the attack by Trump supporters on the Capitol.
Santos is seen in a Facebook photo standing at the foot of a wall outside the Capitol. The caption says, "we the people took over the U.S. Capitol #HOLD THE LINE," according to the FBI's complaint against him.
He also posted two selfie videos with the words "Hector Vargas is at the United States Capitol," the FBI said. The videos show the Capitol dome from the inside, with the caption, "Guys we're INSIDE the chamber."
In the video, Vargas says "we took over this motherf****r … we took over this f***ing capitol, tell them," according to the complaint.
The complaint also said he created a GoFundMe page seeking donations to help "true American patriots" to "fight the good fight in Washington DC."
According to the complaint, Vargas's now-deleted Twitter account included a photo of him wearing the same "Trump 2020" baseball cap that he wore inside the Capitol.
A neighbor told the FBI that Vargas was part of a Jersey City Times article in May that profiled his delivering meals to the homeless, according to the complaint.
Other New Jersey residents previously charged in connection with the deadly Capitol riot include:
- Marissa Suarez, a former Monmouth County corrections officer who took an "emergency holiday" to go to Washington with friend Patricia Todisco. Security footage showed Todisco in the vandalized office of U.S. Sen. Jeffrey Merkley
- Scott Fairlamb, of Sussex County, an MMA fighter and gym owner spotted in several videos submitted to the FBI. Missouri Rep. Cori Bush said Fairlamb threatened her on social media in June. His brother, Preston Fairlamb III, was identified as the former lead Secret Service agent for Michelle Obama. On his LinkedIn page, Preston said he was the Agent in Charge for the Secret Service's Trenton field office.
- Rasha Abual-Ragheb, a Fairfield resident who also goes by Rasha Abu, was arrested on Jan. 19 after someone who saw a picture of her inside the Capitol tipped off the FBI, officials said.
- Patrick Stedman, a self-described dating and relationship strategist from Haddonfield, was charged on Thursday in connection with taking part in the riot. According to the affidavit, Stedman, 32, posted a Twitter video during the attack, saying he had made it into the Senate chamber.
- Leonard Guthrie, of Cape May County, was charged with unlawful entry. He has denied entering the Capitol building, even though images on record in federal court documents appear to show Guthrie there.
- Thomas Baranyi, of Ewing, was charged with disorderly or disruptive conduct. Branyi had said in a TV interview that he was next to Ashli Babbitt, who was trying to breach a barricaded door inside the Capitol building, when she was fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer.
- Army Reservist Timothy Louis Hale-Cusanelli, a Colts Neck resident who also worked at Naval Weapons Station Earle, was arrested after federal investigators said cell phone videos show Hale-Cusanelli "making harassing and derogatory statements toward Capitol Police officers both inside and outside the Capitol building" during the violent riot on Jan. 6. In a recording made by a confidential informant after the insurrection, Hale-Cusanelli noted that if "they’d had more men they could have taken over the entire building," an affidavit said.
- Stephanie Hazelton, who was better known as Ayla Wolf, was also charged. She has been involved with protests and events against executive orders issued by Gov. Phil Murphy in response to the pandemic. The complaint for Hazelton had not yet been released by the FBI as of Tuesday.