Three Northwest Florida men arrested after Jan. 6 riot have no apparent ties to Proud Boys

Tom McLaughlin
Northwest Florida Daily News

Two busloads of Donald Trump supporters left Fort Walton Beach City Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 5, and 20 more flew out of the Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport the next day.

All were headed to Washington, D.C., to stand with thousands of others from across the country in support of the outgoing president as Congress prepared to formalize the results of November's general election.

The big picture:Florida emerges as a cradle of the insurrection as Jan. 6 Capitol riot arrests keep piling up

Local extremism? 'Patriot Front' seeks to make a name for itself in Walton County

All told, 484 of those who traveled to Washington to stand with Trump wound up facing federal charges when a march on the Capitol turned into a riot inside the building that serves as the seat of the nation's government. 

Florida is tied with Texas for the most residents facing charges stemming from the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, with 47 arrested from each state. Florida also had more arrested than any other state who are known associates of the radical Proud Boys or Oath Keepers organizations.

Three of those arrested hailed from the western Panhandle.

Andrew William Griswold

Andrew William Griswold, thus far the only Okaloosa County resident to be arrested following the events of Jan. 6, was not among those traveling to Washington in the organized travel caravan.

More on Griswold:Niceville man charged for alleged role in riot and siege at U.S. Capitol

Sandra Atkinson, the chairman of the Okaloosa County Republican Executive Committee and one of the chief organizers of the caravan to Washington, confirmed that Griswold did not board a bus or fly with the group. She said she does not know Griswold. 

Like 55% of all voters in Okaloosa County, Griswold is registered as a Republican, but from all indications he was not active in the local party.

"I don't recall him as ever being part of the Republican Club or the Republican Executive Committee," said Steve Czonstka, who chaired OCREC in 1998 and served as the county's Republican State Committeeman for 20 years beginning in 2000. "I am not familiar with that name as part of any Republican organization."

Griswold is charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds, violent entry and disorderly conduct, obstruction of justice and disorderly or disruptive conduct on the Capitol grounds.

The federal complaint against him said he was caught on video entering the building, milling about and videotaping himself and others. FBI agents described him hugging another rioter and pumping his fists as he ran down a Capitol hallway. Later, a photo was taken of him standing inside the Senate Chamber.

After he left the building, agents said in their complaint, Griswold was interviewed by reporters from a Canadian-based online news magazine called The Post Millennial.

The database:Capitol riot arrests: See who's been charged across the U.S.

"Griswold seems to be praising the Capitol intrusion, gloating that he and the others ‘showed’ the elected officials who were trying to certify the Electoral College vote by forcing them to hide," the FBI notes in its report.   

"We took the building. They couldn’t stop us. And now they know we can do it again and we will ..., " he said in an expletive-laden interview. "This is America and we love this country and they are not going to (expletive) take it again.

"Pelosi, Schumer ... back off. This is our country. We are willing to do whatever it takes to keep it. Don’t mess with us. Back off. This is our country," he told the reporter. "We showed ’em today. We took it. They ran. And hid."

From the ground:'No one in our group breached the building': Fort Walton Beach man recounts experience at Capitol

Griswold turned himself in shortly after warrants were issued for his arrest. He faced an initial appearance in federal court on March 5 and is awaiting trial. It does not appear that he has ties to any known extremist organizations.

Efforts to reach Griswold through various means were unsuccessful. The Post Millennial denied a request for the video discussed in the FBI complaint.

Jesus Rivera

Jesus Rivera of Pensacola was arrested Jan. 20. He was charged with knowingly entering a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, engaging in disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds with intent to impede government business, engaging in disorderly conduct on Capitol building or grounds, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in the Capitol building.

Rivera, who goes by J.D., has continued to speak out on social media since his arrest, billing himself as the Chicano Patriot. He has declined to accept a deal offered by prosecutors that would require him to plead guilty to the least serious of the charges he faces.

Rivera insisted in a YouTube video that he was inside the Capitol building documenting history, not participating in a riot or insurrection.

"I told myself 'if I don't go to the Capitol and get this, I'm not going to forgive myself,' " he told a woman who goes by "Shipwreck" on a YouTube video that aired May 27.

Rivera said on the same video talk show that he had worked in the film industry before moving to Pensacola in 2013 and had recently returned to it. Prior to the general election of 2020, he created a business with fellow Floridian Scott Brumfield that they called "We the People 1776."

Rivera and Brumfield traveled across the country as We the People 1776, conducting rallies and keeping a video record, according to USA Today Network reporting. Topics discussed included the Black Lives Matter Movement and other hot-button conservative issues. The rallies were held in support of Donald Trump.

The We the People 1776 PayPal bio, which the pair used to fundraise their tour, states they are a "group of veteran’s (sic) who had to stand up and speak out," the Pensacola News Journal reported. 

Rivera was often seen wearing a "Latinos for Trump" hat, and at one time there were two Latino for Trump movements, according to an October 2020 report from CNN.

Enrique Tarrio, formerly acknowledged as the Florida state director of the Proud Boys, claimed affiliation to one of the Latinos for Trump groups, but there is no evidence that Rivera is somehow affiliated with the Proud Boys.  

At about 3:15 p.m. Jan. 6, Rivera entered the Capitol, according to the criminal complaint filed against him. Prior to doing so, it said, he urged viewers to "share this live because I am about to take my ass to the middle of the state capitol and see what’s going on."

Rivera uploaded to his Facebook account a five-minute video of crowd activity within the Capitol crypt, the complaint said. While shooting the video he turned his camera so that his face was clearly seen. 

"The video ends with the individual recording the footage, Rivera, beginning to climb out of a window," the complaint states.

Tristan Chandler Stevens

Tristan Chandler Stevens was a computer engineering student at the University of West Florida in Pensacola when he was taken into custody in February and charged with assaulting officers, fomenting civil disorder, entering restricted buildings or grounds and violent entry or disorderly conduct. 

He had no criminal history before his arrest and there is no indication that he associated with known extremist organizations.

Supporters of President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6. Of the 484 people charged with besieging the Capitol, three are from the western Florida Panhandle.

The federal complaint filed against him states that Stevens armed himself with a riot shield and pushed his way to the front of a group of rioters to assume a leading role in pushing against a line of officers attempting to prevent entry into the Capitol. 

He was part of a coordinated effort to breach "a very prominent entrance" to the building that was accessed through a tunnel and well defended by police.

"A growing number of protesters made their way into the tunnel with a variety of tools and weapons, and the tunnel became the point of one of the more intense and prolonged clashes between protesters and law enforcement at the Capitol on that day," the complaint said. 

At one point in the scrum, Stevens struck an officer in the helmet with the riot shield he had somehow acquired, the complaint alleges. He reportedly also attempted to pull a baton from the grip of a Capitol police officer.