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FBI arrests Trump supporter alleged to have 'blind-sided' Capitol cop on Jan. 6

"I didn’t survive a war to go out like this," the Capitol Police officer, an Iraq war veteran, recalled thinking.

WASHINGTON — A supporter of Donald Trump who is alleged to have "blind-sided" and pushed a Capitol Police officer over a ledge during the Jan. 6 riot was arrested at his home in New York City on Wednesday.

Ralph Joseph Celentano, 54, of Queens, was arrested by the FBI and charged with assaulting an officer in the performance of their duties, impeding officers during a civil disorder, engaging in physical violence on Capitol grounds, an act of physical violence on Capitol grounds and disorderly conduct on restricted grounds, according to court documents. A law enforcement source said Celentano is unemployed.

Image: Ralph Joseph Celentano with a folding chair on his back.
Ralph Joseph Celentano with a folding chair on his back.U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C.

Celentano, who had a "very distinct folding chair strapped to his back" and a Trump hat on his head, was seen on video shoving a Capitol Police officer from behind, causing the officer to fall over a ledge, authorities said. Online sleuths seeking to identify Jan. 6 suspects had dubbed the man #ChairGuy, and he was listed as individual #107 on the FBI's Capitol Violence website.

The Capitol Police officer, identified by the initials "K.E.," told the FBI that he recalled being "blind-sided" from behind in a "football-type tackle" and falling to the terrace below.

"Officer K.E. said he probably sustained injuries during the fall, but he had so much adrenaline at that time that he could not be sure," the FBI affidavit says. "Officer K.E., an Iraq war veteran, recalled thinking 'I didn't survive a war to go out like this.'"

Celentano also got in several other physical confrontations with officers on Jan. 6, 2021, the FBI affidavit alleges.

Image: Ralph Joseph Celentano
Ralph Joseph Celentano.U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C.

It appears that online sleuths played a role in the case. The FBI affidavit says Celentano was "found in a photograph publicly posted to a social media account." The bureau said it confirmed Celentano's identity by interviewing another person featured in the social media photos, who had known Celentano for more than 13 years.

The FBI then got EZ Pass toll information from a car operated by Celentano's significant other, showing that it left Broad Channel, New York, at 3 a.m. ET the day of the riot and returned at around 7:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 7.

NBC New York first reported Celentano's arrest and said there was a heavy law enforcement presence at his home.

The arrest Wednesday followed the Justice Department's victory in its case against Guy Reffitt, the first Jan. 6 case brought to trial. After they deliberated for barely two hours Tuesday, jurors convicted Reffitt on all five charges.

The FBI has made over 775 arrests in connection with the Jan. 6 attack, federal authorities say. Online sleuths investigating the attack, who have identified hundreds of defendants, counted more than 2,500 people who are believed to have either unlawfully entered the Capitol or assaulted law enforcement officers outside the building. Hundreds of people on the FBI's website remain at large.