Nashville man Eric Munchel, who was accused by online researchers as being one of the men who carried zip ties into the U.S. Capitol during the riot Wednesday, has been arrested and now faces federal charges.
After photos of a masked man dressed in paramilitary gear and carrying zip ties in the U.S. Senate chamber appeared online, people began referring to him as the “zip tie guy” on social media. That online sleuthing coincided with the FBI’s call for tips leading to the identification of rioters seen in the photos.
Here’s what we’ve learned about the Nashville “zip tie guy” since Wednesday.
FBI asks public to identify rioters
On Thursday, Douglas Korneski, the special agent in charge of the Memphis Field Office, said the agency was working to identify the man from the photos.
“The FBI is aggressively working to identify any of the individuals who were involved in yesterday’s events and is working very closely with the Department of Justice in any way we can to prosecute those individuals,” Korneski said.
Counter-terrorism experts:Man in Senate with zip ties, Tennessee patch reminiscent of hostage plot
After extensive online efforts to identify the men in the photos carrying hand restraints in the Senate, Munchel’s name began to circulate. One of the first to name him was John Scott-Railton, a researcher at the University of Toronto, who said he shared the information with the FBI.
Accused ‘zip tie guy’ jailed in Nashville
Munchel was being held in a local Nashville jail Sunday on a federal warrant, online records show. An FBI spokesperson, Samantha Shero, confirmed the arrest.
A news release from the Washington federal prosecutor’s office says he is charged with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. The federal news release also identifies him as Eric Gavelek Munchel.
Munchel previously worked in bars
A person named Eric Munchel previously worked at Kid Rock’s Big Ass Honky Tonk, a bar and concert venue on Broadway Avenue in Nashville, owner Steve Smith confirmed Saturday. Smith said Munchel was terminated 60 days ago and declined to share the circumstances of his termination.
A Facebook profile with Munchel’s name and likeness stated he worked as a bartender at Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille, a company with four locations in Florida. The company posted a statement on its Facebook page Friday night acknowledging that “a former employee of ours from 2+ years ago was involved in the recent events at the Capitol building.” The post went on to say that the company has “no affiliation with this employee and their actions were their own.”
Munchel reportedly traveled to the Capitol with his mom
Shortly before the arrest, a British newspaper, The Sunday Times, published an interview with Munchel and his mother, Lisa Eisenhart, a nurse.
The report says they spoke with a journalist after they had taken part in the Capitol incident and as they were preparing to go home.
He’s quoted as saying, “It was a kind of flexing of muscles . . . . The intentions of going in were not to fight the police. The point of getting inside the building is to show them that we can, and we will.”
His mother also expressed radical views, according to the newspaper.
“This country was founded on revolution,” she’s quoted as saying. “If they’re going to take every legitimate means from us, and we can’t even express ourselves on the internet, we won’t even be able to speak freely, what is America for?”
Munchel has faced prior charges
Fulton County, Georgia, court records show Munchel stood trial for misdemeanor battery charges in 2015. According to Patch, a hyper-local news site, the Sandy Springs Police Department Captain said Munchel and another man were accused of assaulting a man and woman in 2013. Records on the final disposition of the case weren’t immediately available.
He was also arrested in 2014 on charges of possession of marijuana and speeding, for which he negotiated a plea that diverted his sentence, publicly available Fulton County Superior Court records show. Those records also state there are no judgments against Munchel.
A Texas man, Larry Brock, was also arrested Sunday
Federal authorities also announced Sunday that they had arrested and charged a Texas man, Larry Brock, who is also accused of carrying plastic restraints in the U.S. Senate during the riot. Brock is accused of wearing a green helmet and holding a white flex cuff during the incident. In an interview with The New Yorker magazine before his arrest, Brock acknowledged he’s the man in the photos and said he found the restraints on the floor.
Neither man is accused of plotting to use the cuffs against people
Experts on extremism have pointed to the possibility that the rioters planned to use the cuffs to carry out vigilante justice against government officials.
However, as of Sunday, neither Munchel nor Brock had been charged by the federal government of planning to use the cuffs in any plot.
Ana Hurler is a digital producer with the USA TODAY Network.