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Florida man charged with setting off explosive device in Capitol tunnel during Jan. 6 riot

Daniel Ball of Homosassa is the only Jan. 6 defendant charged with setting off an explosive device during the attack on the Capitol.
Daniel Ball and the explosion in a Capitol tunnel on Jan. 6, 2021.
Daniel Ball and the explosion in a U.S. Capitol tunnel on Jan. 6, 2021.U.S. District Court Washington

WASHINGTON — The FBI on Tuesday arrested a Florida man who federal authorities say set off an explosive device in a Capitol tunnel during a fierce battle between Trump supporters and law enforcement officers on Jan. 6.

Daniel Ball of Homosassa is charged with 12 counts, including assaulting, resisting or impeding officers with a deadly or dangerous weapon; using an explosive to commit any felony; and obstruction of law enforcement during a civil disorder.

He is the only Jan. 6 defendant charged with setting off an explosive device during the attack on the Capitol.

Authorities say Ball, 38, "worked with other rioters to violently push against fully uniformed police officers attempting to keep individuals out of the Capitol Building" and then "threw an explosive device into the entranceway."

Several officers suffered effects from the explosion, the FBI said. One described “hearing impairment lasting months”; another described the pain of his ears ringing as a 10/10 on the pain scale and said that he temporarily lost his hearing and that his hearing was affected for at least two days. Another officer reported ringing in the ears for nearly three hours, while another said the ringing lasted far into the next day, according to the FBI.

“For many other officers that were interviewed, it was the most memorable event that day,” an FBI affidavit said. “Some officers who were defending the tunnel at the time of the explosion reported feeling the pressure of the blast. Some thought it was a fragmentation grenade and anticipated pain or significant injury. Some thought they were going to die. Some officers suffered psychological trauma from the explosion.”

An FBI explosives and hazardous devices examiner in the Explosives Unit at the FBI laboratory in Huntsville, Alabama, was "not able to conclusively identify the precise dimensions, charge size, or whether the explosive device thrown was improvised or commercially manufactured," according to the FBI, but concluded it was "capable of inflicting damage to surrounding property as well as seriously injuring persons in the vicinity of the resultant explosion."

Daniel Ball gestures towards Capitol police in Washington, DC., on Jan. 6, 2021.
Daniel Ball gestures toward Capitol Police in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021.U.S. District Court Washington

In the affidavit, the FBI said that a few months after the Capitol attack, Ball was arrested in Florida and accused of battery against five civilians and two law enforcement officers. The FBI said he was convicted in connection with the incident and sentenced to five years' probation.

The FBI said Ball’s probation officer confirmed his identification for Tuesday's arrest, which appears to have been made with the help of facial recognition technology. “That’s Daniel Ball,” the probation officer said upon being shown a photo, according to the FBI. The probation officer added that Ball still owned the jacket he was wearing on Jan. 6, 2021, authorities said.

Ball's lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.

The use of explosive devices by the pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6 was extremely rare.

David Lee Judd lit what appeared to be a firecracker, but it did not explode. He was sentenced to more than 2½ years in federal prison for his role in the attack on the Capitol.

The FBI is still looking for the person or people who left pipe bombs outside the headquarters of the Republican and Democratic national committees on Jan. 6. Shortly before the second anniversary of the riot, the FBI boosted the reward to $500,000 for information leading to the arrest of anyone involved with planting the pipe bombs, which did not explode.