WASHINGTON — A woman who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 while wearing a pink beret and was recently identified to the FBI by an ex-romantic partner was charged with four federal counts Monday.
As NBC News first reported, an ex identified Jennifer Inzunza Vargas Geller of California and reported her to the FBI after the bureau featured her in a viral tweet last month. She faces four misdemeanor counts: entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, disorderly conduct in the Capitol grounds or buildings and unlawfully parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. She was not in custody Monday, a law enforcement source said, but there is now a warrant out for her arrest.
For more than two years, online sleuths who identified hundreds of participants in connection with the attack on Jan. 6, 2021, had been unable to determine Vargas Geller's identity, and the woman they dubbed #PinkBeret had been the subject of online conspiracy theories. An attorney for another Jan. 6 defendant suggested she was working at the behest of the government.
But the last weekend of April, a clothing designer Vargas Geller used to date was standing in the checkout line at a Joann Fabric and Crafts store when his buddy showed him a funny tweet from the FBI's Washington field office on his phone.
“He’s always on Twitter, and he said something like, ‘Yo, check out this chick,'" the designer said.“I stopped dead in my tracks,” he said. “I’m like, ‘That’s Jenny.’”
While most recent tweets from the Washington field office account had received a few thousand views, the tweet featuring Vargas Geller racked up millions. Twitter users dubbed her “Insurrection Eva Braun” and “fascist Matilda” and compared her to April Ludgate, the character played by Aubrey Plaza in NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.” Several users joked that she seemed straight out of a Wes Anderson movie, and one user tweeted “Emily in-carceration,” referring to the show “Emily in Paris.”
Vargas Geller was charged 11 days after the viral tweet, which is an extremely quick turnaround compared to other Jan. 6 cases. Online sleuths have identified hundreds of additional Capitol riot participants who have not been charged, some of whom were first IDed more than two years ago, in 2021.
Vargas Geller was from Sacramento, the clothing designer said, and she went to meet him in Los Angeles in early 2019, when they were in their early 20s. “We weren’t, like, trying to get married or anything,” he said. “We were hooking up for a few months.”
But there was a red flag that sparked a breakup: Vargas Geller, he said, wrote on Discord that she was reading Adolf Hitler’s 1925 manifesto.
“I was just instantly turned off, like, ‘Yo, I don’t think this is going to work out,’” he said. “You’re, like, reading ‘Mein Kampf.’ You think immigrants don’t deserve X, Y, Z.” (A social media account linked to Vargas Geller, viewed by NBC News, also referred to Hitler.)
Vargas Geller could not be reached for comment.
Kira West, the defense attorney for Jan. 6 defendant Darrell Neely, who suggested "Pink Beret" was working as a government agent, said after Vargas Geller was identified that the government should have tried to ID her sooner.
“Our question is why they weren’t looking sooner when we brought it to their attention long ago? Especially with Mr. Neely’s liberty on the line,” West said.
Vargas Geller's ex knew she had traveled to Washington and asked her whether she was on the “no fly” list in a message he wrote to her a few days after the attack.
“Nope, cause I didn’t go into the [Capitol],” she wrote, despite extensive video evidence later viewed by NBC News and cited in Monday's affidavit that the FBI says shows her inside the building.
“But you still crossed state lines to riot,” he replied.
“I was there to support the president. Not to partake in that riot. I support the police,” Vargas Geller responded on Jan. 10, 2021, in a conservation shared with NBC News.
Federal prosecutors have charged more than 1,000 people in connection with the Capitol attack, and hundreds of additional participants who have been identified have not yet been arrested.
Most defendants who face charges similar to Vargas Geller’s have received either probation or short sentences of incarceration. The longest sentence — more than 14 years in federal prison — went to a violent rioter with an extensive criminal record.