20th South Carolina resident charged in Jan. 6 US Capitol riot
A Walhalla man alleged to have hurled bear spray at police during the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot has been arrested, now one of 20 people from South Carolina who have been charged in the attack.
Thomas Andrew Casselman, 29, was arrested Tuesday morning in Oconee County. He faces a variety of charges, including assaulting or resisting police, civil disorder and possessing a dangerous weapon on Capitol grounds. He also is charged with acts of physical violence on Capitol grounds and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building.
Casselman was arraigned at the Greenville courthouse later Tuesday and allowed to go free under a $25,000 unsecured bond set by Magistrate Judge Kevin McDonald. Bond conditions include getting permission to leave the state and not having a gun.
A 24-page complaint in the case said Casselman “was captured on camera spraying law enforcement officers with an orange colored spray, presumed to be a chemical irritant,” what the complaint says is “marketed and designed for use to protect individuals against bear attacks and is not intended for use against humans.”
Evidence against Casselman includes several photos captured on police body cameras showing Casselman spraying officers with bear spray, the complaint said.
Tipsters provided the initial information that Casselman was the man in photos publicly circulated by the FBI in the agency’s quest to identify people committing unlawful acts during the Jan. 6 riot, the complaint said.
“These tips stated that Casselman bragged about going to Washington DC, told the tipsters he had been hit with tear gas while there, and shared photographs and videos from his time in DC after he returned,” the complaint said. “Tipsters shared screenshots from Casselman’s Facebook account which confirmed that he was in the area of Washington during the time of Jan. 6.”
After Jan. 6, 2021, Casselman deactivated his Facebook account and cut his long hair and beard to avoid identification, witnesses told the FBI, the complaint said.
Geolocation and time data from Casselman’s cellphone and his email account placed him in the same location — the Capitol’s west plaza — at the same time police were attacked in that area by a man with bear spray, the complaint said.
Although Casselman’s face was covered by a scarf in most images of him, FBI agents managed to identify him not only through tipsters and geolocation devices, but also by a prominent wort on the back of his left hand, the complaint said.
The complaint contains photos of Casselman’s left hand.
Casselman was represented by federal public defender Lora Blanchard. The assistant US. attorney on the case was Winston Marosek.
Approximately 1,000 people from nearly all 50 states have been arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 riots. The arrest of Casselman is an indication that the investigation continues apace. An FBI agent from the Columbia office was one of the key agents on the case, according to the complaint.
The U.S. Department of Justice has said that hundreds more may be arrested in the future as agents continue to gather evidence and make arrests.
Casselman’s case is being transferred to Washington for prosecution.