Tampa Bay singer arrested in Capitol riot

Audrey Southard was the subject of a Tampa Bay Times story that detailed her appearance in a video that shows an angry mob storming the Capitol.
Published June 2, 2021|Updated June 4, 2021

TAMPA — Federal authorities on Wednesday arrested Audrey Ann Southard on charges related to her alleged participation in the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol.

Southard, a vocal coach and piano teacher from Spring Hill, entered a Tampa federal courtroom Wednesday afternoon with arms crossed. She sat quietly at a defense table, gazing through reading glasses at court paperwork.

A judge read a list of nine crimes that had been alleged in a complaint against her. They include assault on a federal officer, obstruction of law enforcement during a civil disorder, obstruction of justice or congress, disorderly conduct in a restricted building or grounds, and engaging in a physical act of violence on capitol grounds.

Related: Tampa man pleads guilty in Jan. 6 Capitol riot

Southard in January was the subject of a Tampa Bay Times story, which detailed her appearance in a video that shows an angry mob storming the Capitol halls. In one bit of footage, she can be heard screaming profanities at police. The story also referenced her remarkable musical talents that have earned her accolades and, once, a showcase in New York’s Carnegie Hall.

A statement of facts accompanying the criminal complaint refers to her as Audrey Ann Southard-Rumsey and includes a detailed chronology of the FBI’s probe of her activities on Jan. 6. It references Facebook and Twitter posts that included photos of her standing outside the Capitol.

“Standing in front of the Capitol ready to take it,” she said on Twitter. “As soon as we get enough people up here. To run the Capitol building. It’s going to be fun.”

An unnamed witness confirmed traveling from Florida in a rental car with Southard and two other people on Jan. 5. They rented a condo in Williamsburg, Va., and drove into Washington, D.C. the next morning, according to the document.

The witness described becoming separated from Southard when the crowd surged toward the Capitol. Sometime later, the witness found her on the east steps outside the building, crying. She said she had gone inside, according to the court document.

FBI agents cited multiple surveillance images from inside the Capitol that appear to show Southard in the hallways with other rioters. The statement of facts also references video clips in which Southard can be seen at the front of a large crowd that has drawn close to a line of Capitol police officers.

“Tell Pelosi we are coming for that b----,” she says in one exchange quoted in the document. “You ready, you ready. ... There’s a hundred thousand of us, what’s it going to be? ... Last friend, last bullet. What’s it going to be?”

In an interview with the FBI on Jan. 26, a capitol police officer identified as “Sgt. V.” said Southard was one of two main agitators who confronted him. As officers tried to keep the crowd back, Southard took hold of a flagpole and pressed it against the sergeant’s chest, according to the document. She continued to push, forcing him back into a set of doors, then against a marble statue on which he struck his head.

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“Sgt. V. felt like he was being trampled during the ordeal,” the document states.

Audrey Ann Southard, center, holds a mask during a counter-protest against a Black Lives Matter demonstration in New Port Richey on Aug. 8, 2020.
Audrey Ann Southard, center, holds a mask during a counter-protest against a Black Lives Matter demonstration in New Port Richey on Aug. 8, 2020. [ Courtesy of Bryan Edward Creative ]

An FBI task force officer, Siobhan Maseda, who was familiar with Southard from protests in Florida, reviewed the images and video and identified Southard. The FBI also obtained Google records which indicated that a mobile device associated with Southard was inside the Capitol building for more than an hour during the riots.

In court Wednesday, Southard told U.S. Magistrate Judge Anthony Porcelli that she had talked with a private attorney, but she did not know if she could afford one going forward. The judge appointed a federal public defender to represent her for the hearing.

He allowed Southard to be released on a $50,000 signature bond, which requires that she will only have to pay if she fails to make future court appearances.

Her release came with conditions. She will be restricted from traveling outside the Middle District of Florida while her case is pending. She can travel to Washington, D.C. for court appearances.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Scruggs expressed concern that upon her arrest Southard refused to answer a question about whether she had any guns. The judge ordered that Southard must surrender any firearms she owns. She was also ordered to turn over her passport.

Southard said little else during the brief hearing. A new court date was set for next week.

Southard is among 400 people who have been accused of crimes related to the Capitol siege. The total includes more than 40 Floridians.

Drawn to the nation’s capital in protest of the 2020 election, the mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump temporarily disrupted congressional certification of the electoral college results. Senators, representatives and former Vice President Mike Pence fled for their safety. Five people, including a police officer, died.