FBI arrests youth pastor for role in Jan. 6 riot after getting tip from Bible college acquaintance

Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election.
Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. | Getty Images/Samuel Corum

The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested a youth pastor for his alleged involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol, following a tip from someone he knew at a Bible college.

Tyler Earl Ethridge, a 33-year-old youth pastor from Colorado Springs, was arrested last Friday and charged with civil disorder, a felony and other related misdemeanor offenses.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Ethridge was among hundreds who illegally entered the Capitol during the riot and encouraged others to do the same.

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A statement from the Justice Department states that Ethridge helped remove fencing before entering the building. He posted several videos of himself on social media documenting his actions.

"I'm probably going to lose my job as a pastor after this," said Ethridge in one of the videos. "I think we're to a point where talk is cheap. If this makes me lose my reputation, I don't care."

On Sept. 24, 2021, Ethridge posted a message to social media: "Don't be afraid of what they sentence you with. I'm not. I'm ready for whatever I'll be charged with. America is still primed and ready."

According to a "Statement of Facts" document, authorities were tipped off to Ethridge's actions by an unnamed person who knew him from Charis Bible College in Woodland Park, Colorado.

"According to the tipster, ETHRIDGE was 'on scaffolding outside Nancy Pelosi's office and inside the chamber. He was on Facebook telling everyone about it,'" noted the document.

While Ethridge told authorities in 2021 that he did not remove any barricades, videos and photos found online showed him participating in their removal and entering the Capitol Rotunda.

The document also stated that Ethridge had been shot with at least one rubber bullet and was pepper-sprayed by security personnel at the Capitol building.

The statement of facts also provided additional quotes from Ethridge during his time inside the Capitol building, in which he said that the election was "stolen" and this was "what pastors need to do."

"Christians, we need to infiltrate every area of society like this. Every area of society like this. Peacefully," Ethridge was quoted as saying, according to the document.

"But if it takes a little bit of aggression to barge through the walls that Satan separates us from the culture, it's time for the body of Christ to infiltrate the culture."

According to The Gazette, Ethridge was employed at the Christ Center Church of Tampa in Dover, Florida, at the time of the riot. The church announced nearly two weeks later that Ethridge was no longer with the congregation. 

With Ethridge being a Charis Bible College's School of Practical Government graduate, the college issued a statement on Jan. 21, 2021, stating that "an alumnus was present in Washington D.C. on Jan. 6 to attend the Trump Rally."

"Although the Ministry vigorously supports every citizen's right to free speech and peaceful assembly, we adamantly oppose the violence or other violations of the law that occurred," the college stated. "In addition, we do not condone or teach insurrectionist practices in our School of Practical Government, but instead, we encourage graduates to live out their faith as active and responsible citizens."

Earlier in the day, President Donald Trump held a rally at the Ellipse near the White House. During his speech, Trump rejected the official results of the 2020 election, in which he lost to Democratic challenger Joe Biden. The rally was held the same day that U.S. Congress held a joint session to certify the election results.

With thousands in town for the rally, several hundred people went to Capitol Hill, where another rally was to be held. However, protesters stormed the Capitol, attacking security guards, damaging property and entering several offices before gradually leaving several hours later.

Ashli Babbitt, an unarmed veteran, was the only person killed by lethal force during the riot when she was shot trying to climb through a smashed door pane into the House Chamber.

Last August, the U.S. Capitol Police announced the officer who shot Babbitt would not be prosecuted, concluding that he had acted lawfully when using deadly force.

Three other individuals died of natural causes, while 34-year-old Trump supporter Rosanne Boyland was killed when she was trampled to death by protesters fighting a police line. 

According to the DOJ, approximately 850 people have been arrested for their involvement Jan. 6 riot, with over 260 individuals charged with various offenses.

In May, 45-year-old William Todd Wilson of the group Oath Keepers pled guilty to charges of seditious conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding for his involvement in the riot.

Wilson was the third Oath Keepers member to plead guilty to such charges, agreeing as part of a deal to cooperate with authorities in their ongoing investigation of the Jan. 6 riot.

In June, the Justice Department announced that five members of the Proud Boys, including the group's former national chairman, were charged with seditious conspiracy and other charges for actions before and during the Jan. 6 riot. 

In addition to being a reporter, Michael Gryboski has also had a novel released titled The Enigma of Father Vera Daniel. For more information, click here.

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