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Experts: Arizona's far-right extremism "getting worse," DC rioters on-the-run

Posted at 10:48 PM, Jan 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-08 00:48:15-05

As law enforcement tries to track down and arrest those who stormed the Capitol Wednesday, some of the most high-profile rioters on-the-run are Arizonans.

For those who follow extremism, it comes as little surprise. Arizona has been teeming with far-right radicals in recent years.

It has become more visible in public in recent months. The valley has seen angry protests outside tabulation centers featuring conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, makeshift militias in full tactical gear, violent clashes in the suburbs, attempted intimidation of elected officials, and Proud Boys openly recruiting and flashing 'white power' signs at rallies.

A staple at most events is Jake Angeli. The valley native is usually dressed in furs, horns, and holding a QAnon sign. Wednesday, Angeli was seen by millions after storming the Capitol and appearing on the evacuated Senate floor.

There is now a thousand-dollar reward for any information that leads to his arrest.

Angeli defended his actions to ABC15's reporting partners at Newsy.

"I'm not really all that worried about it because, in all honesty...I didn't break any laws. I walked through open doors," said Angeli.

Angeli said there was one person who could have impacted his participation.

"I obey the orders of the president of the United States," said Angeli.

"Breaking into the capital, assaulting police officers. It’s gone more of the thuggery route than the ideology route," said Matt Browning, a retired Mesa police officer.

Browning spent much of his career taking down skinheads as an undercover and studying extremism.

"Everything now is done virtually. It’s done over the phone, online, private chat - so it’s a lot easier to get hooked up than it has before in the past," said Browning. "Because of the political climate we have, it’s a threat every day."

Browning said Arizona is "easily top three" when it comes to far-right extremists due to proximity to the border, the open carry laws, and the anti-government sentiment.

"It’s getting worse because they’re caring more guns now," said Browning.

At the AZ GOP's "Stop the Steal" rally Wednesday, which coincided with the riots in DC, things were far more subdued and peaceful. However, there were many of the same outfits and similar rhetoric in the crowds. Militia groups and Proud Boys roamed Wesley Bolin plaza with AR-15's, and some openly talked about insurrection.

According to D.C. court documents, 50-year-old Marsha Murphy of Tucson and 31-year-old Joshua Knowles of Gilbert were arrested after entering the capitol unlawfully during the riot.

Knowles is a father with young children. ABC15 was unable to get in touch with him or his relatives.

Murphy's husband, Kevin, meanwhile, spoke with ABC15 over the phone Thursday. Kevin said the couple no longer lived in Tucson and had moved to Oklahoma.

"What happened was stupid and it should’ve never have happened. They should’ve been protesting and doing what they were doing to show support for the president," said Kevin.

Murphy is an Army veteran and grandmother, according to her husband. The two own an Ammo company.

"The people who broke into the capital have a right to go into jail and never get out. That’s a bunch of crap. No one should be able to be allowed to do that," said Kevin. "But she didn’t get arrested for any of that."

Murphy was arrested for unlawful entry.