Whitton, is charged with multiple felonies, including assaulting an officer with a dangerous weapon, a charge that carries a possible 20-year prison sentence.
Court records show a warrant for Whitton’s arrest was issued March 16, but he was not arrested until April 1. The accusations against Whitton are among the most serious lodged against any Georgian accused of taking part in the insurrection.
People who know Whitton expressed dismay that he faced such serious charges.
Michael Adams, a Henry County resident and former business partner, said Whitton had “a patriot heart” but was betrayed by the president he followed.
“Looks like Donald Trump is a Judas goat, and he led his people to slaughter,” Adams said. “Trump is nowhere to be found and his people are going to prison.”
Thom Greenwood, a Stockbridge real estate agent who trained under Whitton, said Whitton had a “thriving fence company” and was an incredible athlete.
“That was pre-Trump, six or seven years ago,” he said. “I think his views got more aggressive, but depending on which side of the fence you are on, everybody’s views got more aggressive.”
Online sleuths have worked since the attack to identify the hundreds of rioters from footage posted on social media and cheered the arrest of the man they nicknamed “Scallops” for the distinctive folds in the backpack seen in photos and video.
“It was #Scallops pulling an officer down the steps that first moved me to want to help catch these thugs. THRILLED to see him arrested,” one person tweeted Friday afternoon.
Whitton is charged alongside four other men authorities believe were in the center of the most vicious fighting on the West Terrace, which was also the area of the Capitol where Georgian Rosanne Boyland was crushed to death.
Other than the charges there appear to be no common links between the men.
Jeffrey Sabol is a 51-year-old geophysicist from Colorado who described himself as a “patriot warrior” and was arrested in New York City after the riot with deep, self-inflicted cuts to his legs. Sabol and Clayton Ray Mullins of Benton, Ky., are accused of dragging a police officer down the stairs.
Peter Francis Stager, 41, of Conway, Ark., is accused of beating a police officer with a flagpole. And Michael John Lopatic Sr., 57, of Lancaster, Penn., allegedly pushed past the crowd to brutally assault an officer.
Whitton is the ninth person with Georgia roots to be arrested and charged with participating in the Jan. 6 riot. Close to 400 people nationwide have been charged in what authorities have described as one of the largest and most complex cases in the history of federal law enforcement.
A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that 69% of Americans believe it is “very important” to find and prosecute those responsible for the Capitol attack.