Court Battles

Former Marine dubbed ‘Conan O’Riot’ arrested by FBI for alleged role in Jan. 6 riot

A former U.S. Marine dubbed “Conan O’Riot” for his red-haired resemblance to TV show host Conan O’Brien, was arrested Wednesday and charged for his alleged role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol.

The FBI arrested Derek Nelson, 30, of Danville, Ill., in the Prairie State on Wednesday, joining the more than 1,100 individuals arrested in nearly all 50 states for their alleged participation in the riot.

The online group Sedition Hunters, which is a “global community of open-source intelligence investigators” that work to help the FBI and Capitol Police identify alleged insurrectionists, gave Nelson the nickname “Conan O’Riot” and used the hashtag #ConanORiot to track his movements at the Capitol, NBC News reported.

Using photos and videos from both inside the Capitol and near the Washington Monument, investigators were able to identify Nelson, who came wearing colonial-like clothes. According to prosecutors, Nelson wore a tricorn hat, double-breasted button coat, respirator mask, goggles and a white scarf around his neck while carrying a U.S. flag on a wooden pole during the riot.

According to a court filing, Nelson was captured on video near the Washington Monument where crowds gathered to listen to then-President Trump’s speech. The person recording the video asks Nelson why he is at the event, to which he responded, “to start a revolution.”

According to prosecutors, Nelson, alongside his co-defendant Derek Dodder of Nevada, followed a crowd towards the Upper West Terrace of the Capitol as crowd members pushed past barricades and shouted obscenities at uniformed police officers.

Nelson was later seen on footage walking into the Capitol through a door with an exit sign above it, where he and Dodder walked through the Capitol and were seen with a crowd that chanted “our House” and “stop the steal.” At one point, Nelson appeared to make a gesture with his middle finger toward the statues of the Capitol, prosecutors said.

Despite police officers’ efforts to control the crowd with a white spray, Nelson and Dodder remained in the Capitol, where Nelson appeared to take a photograph with his phone.

When asked by a person recording a video, “Who do they work for?” Nelson could be seen pumping his fist in the air and yelling “us,” with several others. The crowd continued to chant “Nancy,” in reference to former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and “USA.”

Nelson and Dodder face four charges, including entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly conduct in a Capitol building or grounds; and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.

Tags Jan. 6 Jan. 6 arrest Jan. 6 Capitol attack Jan. 6 Capitol riot Jan. 6 insurrection