The two pipe bombs that were discovered on Jan. 6 near the U.S. Capitol shortly before a mob stormed the building are believed to have been planted the night before, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation and video footage obtained by The Washington Post.
The explosive devices, which were placed blocks from one another at the headquarters of the Republican and Democratic national committees, have been largely overshadowed by the violent attempted insurrection at the Capitol. But finding the person suspected of planting both bombs remains a priority for federal authorities, who last week boosted the reward for tips leading to the person’s arrest from $50,000 to $75,000.
The FBI said its agents are “using every tool in our toolbox” and have interviewed more than 1,000 residents and business owners in the neighborhood where the devices were found. On Friday morning, the FBI released additional information that confirmed The Post’s reporting about the timing of the placement of the bombs and raised the reward offered to $100,000.
The Post spoke to residents, property managers and business owners to obtain exclusive video of the suspect in the moments before the individual allegedly placed the bomb in an alley behind the Republican National Committee, one block from the Capitol grounds.
On Jan. 5 at 8:13 p.m., a security camera captured the suspect carrying a backpack, according to a resident who reviewed the footage and provided a copy to the FBI. The suspect was walking eastbound on C Street SE, headed toward an entrance to an alley that curved toward the Republican National Committee building. The Post did not obtain that footage but confirmed the homeowner’s account with a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation.
Seconds later, in video obtained by The Post, the suspect can be seen in the alley, known as Rumsey Court. The individual is wearing a light-colored sweatshirt and carrying a backpack near their waist, matching photographs that have been released by the FBI, and walks west past a row of homes. The suspect is believed to be walking toward the area behind the Republican National Committee building and the Capitol Hill Club to place the explosive device, according to the official familiar with the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.
Another video shows the suspect carrying a backpack near their waist as they approach the area where the bomb was discovered on Jan. 6. They appear to be wearing a mask and gloves. According to the law enforcement official, this is the last known sighting of the suspect before the placement of the bomb.
When federal officials asked the public for information about the suspect, they circulated still images drawn from this video. For unknown reasons, the suspect did not immediately leave the area. Another video obtained by The Post shows the suspect retracing their steps on Rumsey Court at 8:16 p.m., again walking westbound toward the RNC building. The individual is moving at a brisk pace and still carrying a backpack near their waist.
One minute later, the suspect is seen walking eastbound on Rumsey Court — away from the area where the pipe bomb was discovered. They are wearing the backpack on their back.
The same person is suspected of placing the bomb at the Democratic National Committee building, according to the FBI. It is not clear which bomb was placed first. On Friday, the FBI released an image of one of the devices. The bureau described the suspect as wearing Nike Air Max Speed Turf shoes in yellow, black and gray and said that the person is believed to have placed both bombs between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 5.
The video’s title was posed as a question, but it left little doubt about where the men who filmed it stood. They called it “The Coming Civil War?” and in its opening seconds, Jim Arroyo, who leads an Arizona chapter of Oath Keepers, a right-wing militia, declared that the conflict had already begun.
To back up his claim, Mr. Arroyo cited Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona, one of the most far-right members of Congress. Mr. Gosar had paid a visit to the local Oath Keepers chapter a few years earlier, Mr. Arroyo recounted, and when asked if the United States was headed for a civil war, the congressman’s “response to the group was just flat out: ‘We’re in it. We just haven’t started shooting at each other yet.’”
Less than two months after the video was posted, members of the Oath Keepers were among those with links to extremist groups from around the country who took part in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, prompting new scrutiny of the links between members of Congress and an array of organizations and movements that espouse far-right beliefs.
Nearly 150 House Republicans supported President Donald J. Trump’s baseless claims that the election had been stolen from him. But Mr. Gosar and a handful of other Republican members of the House had deeper ties to extremist groups who pushed violent ideas and conspiracy theories and whose members were prominent among those who stormed the halls of Congress in an effort to stop certification of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory.
Their ranks include Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona, who like Mr. Gosar was linked to the “Stop the Steal” campaign backing Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the election’s outcome.
Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado has close connections to militia groups including the so-called Three Percenters, an extremist offshoot of the gun rights movement that had at least one member who entered the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory, whose adherents were among the most visible of those who stormed the building, and she appeared at a rally with militia groups.
Before being elected to Congress last year, Ms. Greene used social media in 2019 to endorse executing top Democrats and has suggested that the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., was a staged “false flag” attack. The liberal group Media Matters for America reported on Thursday that Ms. Greene also speculated on Facebook in 2018 that California wildfires might have been started by lasers from space, promoting a theory pushed by followers of QAnon.
Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida appeared last year at an event also attended by members of the Proud Boys, another extremist organization whose role in the Jan. 6 assault, like those of the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, is being investigated by the F.B.I.