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Jailed in Pinellas: Florida man photographed carrying Pelosi’s lectern

Adam Christian Johnson was booked into Pinellas County jail shortly after 9 p.m. Friday.
Adam Christian Johnson, 36, was booked Friday night into the Pinellas County Jail where he is being held on a federal arrest warrant. Johnson is accused of being the pro-Trump protester seen carrying the lectern of U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi through the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol Building after a pro-Trump mob stormed the building on Jan. 6.
Adam Christian Johnson, 36, was booked Friday night into the Pinellas County Jail where he is being held on a federal arrest warrant. Johnson is accused of being the pro-Trump protester seen carrying the lectern of U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi through the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol Building after a pro-Trump mob stormed the building on Jan. 6. [ Getty Images | Pinellas County Sheriff's Office ]
Published Jan. 9
Updated Jan. 12

LARGO — The Florida man photographed carrying Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern during the riot at the U.S. Capitol is now in the Pinellas County jail being held on three federal charges, according to arrest records.

Adam Christian Johnson, 36, was booked shortly after 9 p.m. Friday and is being held on a U.S. Marshals arrest warrant. He is one of three men who were charged Saturday in federal court in the District of Columbia in connection with the riots.

Related: MONDAY UPDATE: Florida man accused in Capitol lectern theft allowed to go free on bond

Johnson is a stay-at-home-dad who lives with his wife, a local physician, and their five children in their Parrish home, according to the Bradenton Herald.

Adam Christian Johnson, 36, was booked into the Pinellas County jail on Friday night.
Adam Christian Johnson, 36, was booked into the Pinellas County jail on Friday night. [ Pinellas County Sheriff's Office ]

His first appearance is scheduled for Monday afternoon at the federal courthouse in Tampa, said Will Daniels, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

An FBI arrest warrant details the chaos of that afternoon: U.S. Capitol Police “were attempting to keep the crowd away” as the joint session to certify the Nov. 3 vote took place. But the barricades and police surrounding the exterior of the U.S. Capitol were not enough, the report said.

“Certain individuals in the crowd forced their way through, up, and over the barricades and officers,” the report said. “Members of the U.S. Capitol Police attempted to maintain order.”

Shortly after 2 p.m., police were overwhelmed and the crowd forced entry, the report said. Sometime after that, Johnson entered the building and found the lectern, which was normally stored under a staircase to the third floor on the House side.

A pro-Trump protester carries the lectern of U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi through the Roturnda of the U.S. Capitol Building after a pro-Trump mob stormed the building on Jan. 6 in Washington, DC.
A pro-Trump protester carries the lectern of U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi through the Roturnda of the U.S. Capitol Building after a pro-Trump mob stormed the building on Jan. 6 in Washington, DC. [ WIN MCNAMEE/GETTY IMAGES | TNS ]

He hoisted the lectern and walked through the rotunda, waving as a camera snapped the iconic photograph. Over his right shoulder hung the “Surrender of General Burgoyne,” a famous oil painting marking the turning point in the American Revolution. To his left, an American flag.

Within hours, Johnson became one of the most recognized faces in the day’s historic events. His wide grin, red beard and knitted Trump hat circulated the internet and flashed along screens.

Agents tracked down Johnson after someone, who said they shared a mutual friend, saw the viral photo of him and called the FBI to identify Johnson as a resident of Bradenton, according to an FBI arrest warrant. Agents searched government databases and found two homes for Johnson: Bradenton and Parrish. They compared his driver’s license photo with the viral image before ordering his arrest.

Adam Johnson of Parrish streamed a Facebook live video Wednesday, apparently as he walked the halls of the U.S. Capitol. His Facebook page was later taken down.
Adam Johnson of Parrish streamed a Facebook live video Wednesday, apparently as he walked the halls of the U.S. Capitol. His Facebook page was later taken down. [ Facebook ]

Johnson faces three charges: “one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; one count of theft of government property; and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds,” according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Columbia.

The release states: “It is alleged that on Jan. 6, 2021, Johnson illegally entered the United States Capitol and removed the Speaker of the House’s lectern from where it had been stored on the House side of the Capitol building. A search of open sources led law enforcement to Johnson, who is allegedly seen in a widely circulated photo inside the Capitol carrying the lectern.”

Pelosi’s lectern had been stored in her suite before the Capitol was breached, her staff told FBI agents, according to an arrest warrant.

The lectern — valued at more than $1,000 according to the House curator — was found by Senate staff on Thursday in the Red corridor of the Senate wing off the Rotunda in the Capitol.

The Washington Post reported a listing for the lectern briefly appeared on eBay, commanding bids of at least $56,000 before it was taken down. The postings were a hoax. The lectern, as well as a gavel, were recovered undamaged.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office is prosecuting Johnson’s case, and the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Capitol Police are investigating.

Jacob Anthony Chansley, who is known as Jake Angeli — the man wearing horns and covered in face paint, — was charged with unlawful and violent entry. Derrick Evans of West Virginia was charged with both unlawful and violent entry.

At least three other men from Florida have been charged with unlawful entry during Wednesday’s events.

Related: Hernando blogger was at head of Capitol mob as it attacked

In addition to the viral photo carrying the lectern, Johnson also streamed a Facebook live video Wednesday apparently as he walked the halls of the U.S. Capitol. His Facebook page was later taken down.

The FBI was searching for Johnson, who was quickly identified on social media by local residents who saw the photo of him carrying the lectern during the mob violence at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

Before being deleted or taken down, Johnson’s social media accounts had posts that he was Washington, D.C., and included disparaging comments about the Black Lives Matter movement and law enforcement who defended First Amendment rights.

Related: Tampa Bay man arrested in connection with Capitol riot, police say

Johnson was not among the suspects identified by the U.S. Department of Justice on Friday as having been already charged in federal court for their alleged roles in the riot. Complaints had already been filed against others but remained under seal.

Agents had spoken to local authorities as they searched for Johnson.

Times staff writer Dan Sullivan contributed to this report. Information from the Bradenton Herald was used in this report.

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Tampa Bay Times U.S. Capitol coverage

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