Federal authorities arrested the founder of “Proud Boys Hawaii” in connection with Wednesday’s siege of the U.S. Capitol where thousands of rioters stormed the building and interrupted an Electoral College vote count by Congress to certify Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election.
The FBI arrested Nicholas “Nick” Robert Ochs at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport on Oahu Thursday night upon his return from Washington D.C. A criminal complaint filed at federal court in the District of Columbia charged him with “unlawful entry into restricted buildings or grounds.”
Ochs could not be reached to comment on the charge. His attorney, Myles Breiner, said he is in custody at the Honolulu Federal Detention Center and in COVID-19 lockdown as a precautionary measure. He has tested negative for the novel coronavirus.
Ochs’ initial appearance via telephone at Honolulu federal court is set for Monday before Magistrate Judge Wes Reber Porter.
Ochs is a founding member of a Hawaii chapter of the “Proud Boys,” a far-right extremist group.
A federal affidavit in support of the criminal complaint unsealed today in federal court in the District of Columbia said some members of the Proud Boys have advocated for violent action over Trump’s false claims about the election.
Ochs flew to Washington D.C. to to attend a rally, Breiner said. He noted Ochs does not have a criminal history and did not threaten anyone, engage in any criminal property damage and was not in possession of any weapons at the Capitol.
He is also a member of the “Murder the Media” group. On Thursday, another group member posted on a social networking site: “Our Journalist Nick Ochs has apparently been arrested in Hawaii for covering the ‘Stop the Steal’ event in D.C.”
Breiner asserted he does not support the Capitol riot. “I don’t approve of what happened. I want to be clear about that,” he said. Breiner blames President Donald Trump for fueling his supporters to act inappropriately. “Trump created this environment and people like my client, Mr. Ochs, is paying the price,” he added.
A mob of rioters stormed the Capitol Wednesday during a congressional joint session of the electoral vote count. Some rioters “pushed over barricades and shoved police officers out of the way to enter the building while others scaled walls and broke windows,” according to the federal affidavit.
Congressional members temporarily suspended the joint session and evacuated the chambers until law enforcement could secure the building. Congress resumed the count that night and affirmed Biden’s victory in the election early Thursday.
At 11:13 a.m. (Hawaii time) Wednesday, Ochs tweeted a photo of himself inside the Capitol smoking a cigarette. The caption said: “Hello from the Capital (sic) lol.”
Ochs told a CNN reporter: “We didn’t have to break in, I just walked in and filmed.”
He added: “There were thousands of people in there — they had no control of the situation. I didn’t get stopped or questioned.”
CNN reported Ochs claimed he was working as a professional journalist when he entered the Capitol and that he did not enter any of the congressional chambers or offices.
Hello from the Capital lol pic.twitter.com/H1Axdou708
— Dictator of Hawaii Elect Nick Ochs (@OchsForHawaii) January 6, 2021
The seige that rattled the nation resulted in the deaths of five people.
U.S. Capitol police officer Brian D. Sicknick sustained injuries while physically engaging with protestors when he responded to the riots. The U.S. Capitol Police Department said when he returned to his division office, he collapsed. Sicknick was taken to a local hospital where he died from his injuries late Thursday.
Capitol police fatally shot 35-old Ashli Babbitt of Huntington, Md. in the building. A video by a bystander shows Babbitt attempting to climb through a broken window of a barricaded doorway when an officer fired.
Three people identified as 34-year-old Rosanne Boyland of Kennesaw, Ga.; 55-year-old Kevin Greeson of Athens, Ala.; and 50-year-old Benjamin Phillips of Ringtown, Pa., died of medical emergencies during the riot.
Congressional leaders are pushing for a second impeachment of Trump, accusing him of inciting the violent rampage by his baseless claims of election fraud.
Ochs was the vice chairman of Trump’s Hawaii campaign in 2016.
According to UH spokesman Dan Meisenzahl, he attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2020. His LinkedIn page said he has been working as a freelance writer since 2015.
Ochs unsuccessfully ran as a Republican candidate in 2020 for the state House District 22 seat which covers Waikiki and Ala Moana. Adrian Tam, a Democrat, won by a wide margin with nearly 68% of the votes to Ochs’ 32% of the votes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.