Georgia man arrested in assault of Capitol police officer in Jan. 6 riot

Jack Wade Whitton Jr. was the latest Georgian arrested in connection with the assault on the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6. FBI PHOTO

Credit: FBI

Credit: FBI

Jack Wade Whitton Jr. was the latest Georgian arrested in connection with the assault on the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6. FBI PHOTO

Federal authorities Thursday arrested a 30-year-old fencing contractor and CrossFit instructor from Locust Grove for the brutal assault of police officers during the Jan. 6 riot at the United States Capitol.

Authorities believe Jack Wade Whitton Jr. was at the center of some of the most savage fighting between the pro-Trump mob and police at West Terrace entrance to the Capitol where rioters grabbed and stabbed at officers with flag poles and other implements.

In several videos posted online, the man believed to be Whitton is seen repeatedly jabbing at a police line with a crutch as the mob chants “Fight for Trump.” Another video showed him punching an officer, then grabbing him and dragging him into the crowd.

Body camera footage from a prone officer appears to show the same man, wearing a cap, repeatedly stomping on him as another man grabbed the officer’s leg. Further footage shows the man in the cap grabbing a fallen officer and dragging him into the depths of the mob.

The FBI put photos of Whitton on its website dedicated to identifying the Capitol rioters, and included him among those the agency was most eager to apprehend because of their attacks on police officers, three of whom were injured in the melee on the West Terrace steps.

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.