In the opening melee of the Jan. 6 insurrection, as the first rioters forced their way onto the Upper West Plaza of the Capitol, they faced the crowd of thousands, gesticulating to follow and screaming at police to retreat. Rioters threw sticks and projectiles at officers. Flagpoles pounded on the ground. Smoke rose. Someone wearing a bald eagle head and star-spangled suit wandered through the chaos. In videos, a man can be seen from several angles picking up a large canister of pepper spray from the ground. He fires a jet of spray at protesters and police officers. As he drops the canister and walks away, people all around begin to cough, USA Today reports. That man, like hundreds more, is wanted by the FBI. Three photos of him appear in the FBI’s online photo gallery of people wanted in the insurrection. Two photos show his face while a third shows him wearing a face gaiter, the pepper spray canister in hand.
He is identified only as suspect #278 AFO. AFO stands for “Assault on a Federal Officer.” Interviews and a review of online video and social media – based on information supplied to the FBI by an army of online sleuths – all point to one man who admits he was at the Capitol that day: Gregory Yetman. At the time, Yetman was a military police sergeant in the New Jersey National Guard. He continued to serve until he was honorably discharged in March 2022. Online researchers provided Yetman's identity to the FBI more than a year ago, but he has never been arrested. Cases like 278 AFO illuminate a lesser-known underside of the effort to arrest and convict people responsible for the insurrection. While federal officials have publicized the prosecution of nearly 1,000 people in the Jan. 6 investigation, far less focus has been placed on the hundreds more who are wanted but have never been charged.