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FBI Arrests Redhead Cosplayer Dubbed ‘Conan O’Riot’ By January 6 Detectives


WASHINGTON — An alleged Jan. 6 attendee who online sleuths dubbed “Conan O’Riot” because of his resemblance to former late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien was arrested by the FBI this week.

Derek Nelson, who was an active-duty U.S. Marine from October 2011 to September 2015, was arrested Wednesday in Champaign, Illinois, according to federal court records. Along with his co-defendant, Derek Dodder of Nevada, Nelson, 30, faces four misdemeanor charges related to the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Online “Sedition Hunters” dubbed Redhead Nelson #ConanORiot, using the hashtag to track his movements at the Capitol. Detectives had identified Nelson more than two years ago, in the summer of 2021.

Nelson was dressed in colonial attire on January 6, namely “a brown tricorn hat with a blue double-breasted coat and a red or brown undershirt with a white scarf around his neck,” according to the FBI. In one video cited by the FBI, filmed near the Washington Monument, where crowds had gathered to watch then-President Donald Trump’s speech, a videographer asks Nelson why he is there.

“To start a revolution,” Nelson said. “Why are you here?”

Derek Nelson at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia

When the mob descended on the Capitol, Nelson was near the front line as a pro-Trump mob pursued outnumbered officers on the west side of the building, according to the FBI.

Once inside the Capitol, Nelson wore goggles and a respirator mask, and video was introduced as evidence in a separate case from Jan. 6. watch he fled after another rioter set off a fire extinguisher near the doors of the House of Representatives, which were barricaded as members fled the violent crowd.

A federal judge in Illinois released Nelson on his own recognizance Wednesday, ordered him not to travel outside the continental United States without court approval and banned him from possessing a firearm, a destructive device or any other weapon. Nelson will make a virtual appearance before a federal judge in the nation’s capital on October 17.

Nelson has been represented by an attorney since at least February 2022, according to the FBI. Nelson’s lawyer called the FBI special agent assigned to the case after the special agent went to Nelson’s home and left a business card in the mail slot of his front door l last year, the FBI said.

Redhead nicknamed 'Conan O'Riot' by January 6 detectives arrested by FBI
Nelson, second from right, wearing a gas mask in footage captured from the Capitol on January 6, 2021. U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia

On his podcast “Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend,” O’Brien said after the attack that Jan. 6 was a heartbreaking day “for any sensitive American,” and singled out Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Josh Hawley. , R-Mo., for objecting to the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential victory even after the Capitol was ransacked.

“To see Cruz and Hawley leave this lockdown and come back and double down on this idiocy, I think that’s the angriest I’ve felt since ‘Schitt’s Creek’ went off the air,” O’Brien joked.

In a podcast last month, O’Brien discussed what he said was Donald Trump’s greatest crime: the former president’s impact on comedy.

“I’m really going out on a limb and saying that’s his greatest crime,” O’Brien joked. “I think he hurt political comedy by being so extravagant himself. I think the January 6 story is a failure in terms of how much he hurt comedy.

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