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Jan. 6 rioter nicknamed 'shield grampy' admits assaulting officers at the Capitol

Anthony Mastanduno was ordered held without bond after he pleaded guilty to nine counts, admitting he repeatedly assaulted officers at the lower west tunnel on Jan. 6.
Anthony Mastanduno at the U.S. Capitol on January 6
Anthony Mastanduno at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.FBI

WASHINGTON — A Jan. 6 rioter online sleuths nicknamed "Shield Grampy" has admitted that he used a stolen police shield during the brutal battle at the lower west tunnel of the U.S. Capitol and assaulted officers with a flagpole-like object and a baton.

Anthony Mastanduno pleaded guilty to nine counts Wednesday and was ordered taken into custody by U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, who set his sentencing for June 27. Mastanduno, 61, was arrested in August, with an FBI affidavit noting that online "sedition hunters" had given him his nickname "due to his age and his use of a stolen police shield to assault MPD [Washington police] officers at the entrance to the tunnel."

Mastanduno previously lived in Farmingdale, New York, and now lives in North Carolina.

According to an agreed-upon court filing, he "was wearing a red baseball cap with a patch on the bill and 'Trump 2020 Keep America Great!' embroidered in white thread, a camouflage jacket, and a backpack" on Jan. 6, 2021, and also, at times, "donned large, clear goggles with a blast elastic strap." He entered the Capitol about four minutes after it was first breached by a massive pack of rioters led by Michael Sparks, who jumped through a window smashed in by Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola.

Mastanduno admitted he "was at the front of a line of rioters who overwhelmed police officers in the Crypt" and then joined the mob outside the Capitol by the lower west terrace, where some of the most brutal violence of the day took place. Mastanduno admitted that he "picked up and threw a blue, flagpole-like object into the mouth of the tunnel, as if throwing a javelin or spear toward the line of outnumbered police officers who were defending the Capitol against the mass of rioters."

Anthony Mastanduno at the U.S. Capitol on January 6
Anthony Mastanduno carries a shield at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.FBI

Minutes later, Mastanduno admitted, he "obtained a police shield that had been stolen from the officers, which he used to push against the same line of officers at the mouth of the tunnel. While he pushed, he also utilized a telescoping baton, which can be worn on one’s hip and which expands in length, to strike at officers multiple times."

"Shield Grampy" pleaded guilty one day after another rioter, given the nickname "Conan O'Riot" because of his resemblance to former late night host Conan O'Brien, pleaded guilty to one charge.

More than 1,300 people have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack, and more than 950 defendants have been convicted. Nearly 500 defendants have been sentenced to periods of incarceration, including a record-setting 22-year sentence for Proud Boy Enrique Tarrio.

Mastanduno's plea also came the day Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., endorsed Donald Trump for president in 2024, just over three years after he said there was "no question" that Trump was "practically and morally responsible" for provoking the Jan. 6 attack.

"The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president," McConnell said after the Jan. 6 attack, calling Trump's conduct "disgraceful," though he voted to acquit him in his insurrection impeachment trial.

Social media posts the FBI cited in Mastanduno's case indicate that he deeply believed Trump's lies about the 2020 presidential election.

“I hated Obama and hated his politics but still considered him my president because he won honestly," Mastanduno wrote. “My Trump flag [will] fly high and proud in my front yard till 1/20/2025.”