Tag Archives: Insurrection

Capitol Rioter’s Excellent Vacation on Trump’s Campaign Trail: A Portrait of an American Insurrectionist

15 May

New York man arrested multiple times for assaulting, threatening to kill cops while flying ‘Blue Lives Matter’ flags on nationwide Trump campaign tour

May 12, 2021

By Nate Thayer

On Jan. 6, 2021, Jonathan Munafo punched a cop twice in the head with his fists, ripped away his riot shield and held it aloft in victory to a cheering crowd of insurrectionists. He then smashed a window with an American flag helping others seize control of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., video, photographs, and court documents show.

But that was not the 34-year old Albany,, New York man’s first rodeo assaulting law enforcement while demonstrating his support for the re-election of then president Trump.

Munafo is charged in at least five states, two federal jurisdictions, and an American Indian reservation with weapons violations and assaulting cops and others as one of Donald Trump’s most fervent supporters in a nationwide crime spree in the run up to presidential elections  and the  insurrection at the Capitol in Washington, court and police documents obtained in an investigation show.

Munafo spent an uninterrupted year criss-crossing the country attending Trump campaign rallies in a borrowed car with official New York state “Naval Militia” license plates,  plastered with pro-Trump stickers, flying Trump and “Blue Lives Matter” flags and “Support our Police” banners from the vehicle’s roof, and a life-size mannequin of Trump seated in the back passenger seat, making a minor name for himself as one of then president Trump’s most fanatical true believers.

Munafo was arrested April 23, 2021 in Florida by a U.S. Marshall’s SWAT team on two separate federal warrants for 10 felony offenses including assaulting a federal officer, violent entry and disorderly conduct related to the January 6 U.S. Capitol riot. 

Other federal warrants accuse him of making 143 calls in a three hour period on January 5, 2021–the day before the Capitol insurrection–to a recorded 911 emergency number of the Calhoun County, Michigan sheriff’s office threatening to kill deputies while he was parked at a Dunn, North Carolina truck stop enroute to the insurrection to seize the Capitol building, according to FBI criminal complaints issued by the federal western district of Michigan court.

Munafo has left a trail of violent kerfuffles arrested on weapons and assault on law enforcement charges in a transcontinental crime spree from Washington D.C. to Washington state to Massachusetts in the days, weeks, and months prior to the January 2021 insurrection in Washington D.C.

But local, state, and federal law enforcement have never connected all the dots–and may not still realize Munafo, now in custody in Florida, is the same man with current outstanding arrest warrants for violence in numerous other jurisdictions.

At least three courts in different states with current outstanding warrants for Munafo’s arrest were not aware of charges in other jurisdictions or that Munafo is currently in custody when contacted this week by a reporter.

“He is scheduled to appear in court later this week–tomorrow– on May 13 for assault and battery on a police officer,” said a Lynn, Massachusetts court clerk when contacted by telephone this week. “I see he has another warrant out for him in Newburyport (Massachusetts) District Court.”

But neither the Lynn or Newburyport Massachusetts courts knew Munafo was at the time in custody in Florida on similar charges and is unlikely to appear in their courts.

“Hhmmm…that is interesting. I’ll try and let the court know he shouldn’t be expected to show up for court,” she said.

On September 14, 2020, Massachusetts State Police received a report that a man in a car “covered in Trump stickers threatened to shoot another man” at a highway rest stop near the small town of Salisbury, Massachusetts. State Police traced the license plate, a New York State vanity plate “Naval Militia 305”, to Munafo and issued him a summons to appear in court.

Law enforcement records show Munafo failed to appear and, instead, on September 22, 2020, in response to the issuance of the summons, called the emergency line for the State Police post in Newberry, Massachusetts 21 times using vulgar language and yelling at state troopers, arguing he shouldn’t be in trouble for threatening to shoot someone at the highway rest stop.

Several weeks later, on November 6, 2020, he was arrested again in nearby Lynn, Massachusetts for hip checking an elderly jogger, punching a 46-year old woman in the face who objected, and then assaulting local law enforcement while holding a placard reading “the no longer silent majority stands with Trump” placard and flying Trump and Blue Lives Matter flags from his nearby car in the quiet seaside town.

That was three days after Trump lost his re-election bid for president, which Munafo contends was stolen from the now former president.

 

 

 

Jonathan Munafo assaulting an elderly passing jogger in Lynn, Massachusetts on November 6, 2020. Photo screen grabbed from a cellphone video taken by a victim of the assault and provided to a reporter

 

“Take a hike, you ignorant motherfucker, “Munafo, carrying a Trump for president campaign placard, is video recorded telling a 46-year old woman passerby who objected to his berating others who disagreed with his one-man pro-Trump demonstration. “You just listen to the media. You’re talking to a real man today.”

Munafo then “punched me in the face. The guy was flying ‘blue lives matter’ and Trump flags and targeting people of color,” said the victim of Munafo in the November incident who pressed charges but asked that her name not be used when contacted this month by a reporter.

“I will fucking knock you silly, lady,” Munafo told her shortly before he hip checked the elderly jogger and punched him in the face with one hand while holding a Trump placard in the other, video of the incident taken by the crime victim shows.

 

Jonathan Munafo’s car in Lynn, Massachusetts November 6, 2020 when he was arrested for assaulting random pedestrians while holding Trump action signs three days after the then president was defeated for re-election

After Munafo was arrested for assaulting those pedestrians on that November Friday night,  he allegedly spit in the face of arresting officers while handcuffed to a hospital bed under police guard on Saturday, calling the cops ‘niggers’ and ‘spics, resulting in additional charges of assault and battery against a cop. After the weekend in jail, he was released November 9 by the Lynn district court on $500 bond pending a trial scheduled for January 7, 2021, according to Lynn, Massachusetts court and police charging documents.

Five days after that, on November 14, 2020, Munafo was photographed with a determined look on his face and flying an American flag at a large pro-Trump demonstration organized by white nationalists in Washington, D.C., a review of video and photographs taken that day show.

Jonathan Munafo in Washington, D.C. November 14 2020

 

The following month, on December 12, 2020, Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police documents show Munafo was arrested again for  “Illegal possession of a prohibited weapon” at the “Mega MAGA March” organized in part by the now nationally known “Proud Boys” supporting Trump and demonstration organizers false claim the presidential election results were fraudulent and his re-election was stolen.

Munafo spent three days in jail and was released on December 15, Washington, D.C. police arrest and incarceration records show.

 

 

Months earlier, Munafo had drawn the attention of news media. “If you’re hoping to get a seat at President Trump’s Tulsa rally, you won’t be able to out compete Jonathan Munafo,” wrote Tulsa, Oklahoma TV KTUL on June 15, 2020. “Not only did he come to Tulsa all the way from Massachusetts, but he’s already been camped out in front of the BOK Center for the past THREE DAYS. He’s got it down to a science…”

Jonathan Munafo’s orange 2015 Chevy TRX in Tulsa, OK June 2020. Munafo is pictured in the background in the blue shirt waiting in line for tickets to the Trump campaign rally in Tulsa.

“It’s just an effort to show support for President Trump and what he is doing for the American people,” Munafo told Tulsa, Oklahoma television while sleeping on the sidewalk waiting in line for tickets to a Trump campaign appearance where he obtained coveted front row seats only feet from the then president, video posted on Twitter by Munafo shows.

“The vehicle behind you is equipped with everything I need for events such as this. I also have reservations at the hotel, obviously for hygiene purposes and whatnot,” he told Tulsa news media at the time.

For months, that orange colored 2015 Chevrolet TRX vehicle with official New York State “Naval Militia 305” license plates criss-crossed the country on a tour that placed Munafo at Trump rallies from Oklahoma to Nevada to South Carolina, during which he aquired criminal felony weapons, assault, attacking law enforcement, and making other threats charges in Washington state, California, Michigan, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C., court and local law enforcement records show.

Munafo, who records show does not appear to have a valid current drivers license, had been driving the vehicle with “New York Naval Militia” license plates across the country following President Trump’s campaign trail for more than year.

The following month, in July, 2020, Munafo was arrested on a Washington state Native American tribal reservation.

On July 16, 2020, Munafo was arrested by Nisqually Tribal law enforcement for “brandishing a weapon” and “driving with a suspended license” and held in a tribal jail run by the “Nisqually Department of Corrections” outside of Olympia, Washington, Washington state, county police, Tribal law enforcement, and other court records show.

 

Nisqually Tribal Department of Correction records showing Jonathan Munafo being held in their jail for “Brandishing a Weapon” charges in July 2020

After spending 3 nights in jail, a Thurston County, Washington judge sentenced him to a year in jail and then suspended the sentence and Munafo walked out of court to continue his nationwide tour and still unquenched support for the re-election of president Donald Trump.

Munafo’s transcontinental trip involving disputes with law enforcement while campaigning in support of the re-election of Donald Trump, only accelerated from then.

When he was cited for threatening to shoot someone at a Massachusetts highway rest stop in September, 2020 the victim jotted down his license plate number and called 911. Massachusetts State Police ran the license tag number, called the New York Naval Militia and quickly determined that the driver–but not owner–was Jonathan Munafo, 34, of Albany, New York.

When contacted this month, a spokesman for the New York State Naval Militia, Lt COL Richard Goldenberg, tried his best to be helpful but was limited in what information he was allowed to share due to state and federal privacy laws.

Goldenberg was adamant Jonathan Munafo had no connection with the New York State Naval Militia and distanced the official militia from the vehicle owner who he acknowledged had been attached to the military unit. “Our records show that NYNM Militia Vanity plate #305 did belong to one of our former members, discharged and no longer serving in our force,” Goldenberg said in a series of email exchanges. “The vanity plate had been secured appropriately with NYS DMV and the vehicle was borrowed by Jonathan Munafo. Munafo did not own nor register the vehicle in the Lynn, Massachusetts incident, to the best of our knowledge. The owner has since surrendered those plates back to DMV. I hope this answers your inquiry. Munafo has no ties to the New York Naval Militia and the owner of his borrowed vehicle no longer serves in the New York Naval Militia.”

When asked why New York State required a Navy Militia force, he cited the state’s lengthy waterways and commercial ports and said “we do border Canada.”

 

 

 

 

“To the best of our knowledge your account is correct,” said New York State Naval Militia spokesman Goldenberg. “Mr.. Gladding left service with our NY Naval Militia in October 2020 and his vehicle vanity plate remained in effect until he returned the plate to DMV in early 2021. I also have no additional details on Gladding’s departure from service. He may have retired or simply completed his reserve service or decided Naval Militia additional volunteer duties was no longer for him. You’d have to ask him.”

On January 7–the day after the Capitol insurrection, Munafo fled Washington, D.C. in his borrowed orange colored 2015 Chevrolet TRX with NY state “Naval Militia 305” license plates–and “was rear ended by a semi tractor trailer truck in Maryland, which totaled my car,” according to the vehicle owner, U.S. Navy reservist Kenneth Gladding and recently departed member of the New York State Naval Militia, in a telephone interview this week while he was at work as a “senior security officer” for the New York State Department of Health.

Gladding, a “Religious Program Specialist” with the U.S. Navy Reserves, acknowledged he had authorized Munafo to use his car. “He is a big Trump supporter,” Gladding said of his friend. “He just loved driving across the country.”

Gladding said he only learned of the fate of his vehicle when his insurance company called to tell him his car had been totaled in Maryland while being driven by Munafo on January 7. Gladding said he had talked to Munafo “who called me from jail in Florida today and said he still has headaches” from the car accident.

Gladding said his friend, as far as he knew, was never violent prior to Trump becoming president, adding Munafo didn’t have steady employment but worked intermittently in “Pest control.”

11 days after wrecking the vehicle in Maryland while fleeing the violent insurrection in Washington, D.C., Munafo was arrested on January 18, 2021 by Davis, California police for “Disturbing The Peace By Fighting” in Yolo County, California at a Martin Luther King Day celebration .

 

“He got a ride to California with other Trump supporters” who attended the Capitol riots, Gladding said. “Then he took a Greyhound bus to Florida,” he added, saying he had just spoken with Munafo who called him from his Florida jail cell where he is currently being held on federal charges waiting extradition to Michigan before he is sent to Washington, D.C. to face other federal charges related to the January 6 riot there.

Two days after his California arrest, on January 20, 2021, Munafo was charged with “communicating an interstate threat” on January 5th from North Carolina to the Calhoun County, Michigan Sheriff’s Office and charged in the Western District of Michigan federal court.

This was prior to the FBI having connected the dots that Munafo was the same person wanted on other, 10 separate Washington, D.C. federal charges including assaulting federal officers for his role on January 6, 2021 at the Capitol insurrection.

“The caller, later identified as Jonathan Munafo, placed approximately 143 calls demanding to speak with a deputy sheriff or sergeant, tying up the emergency line for several hours,” wrote the Michigan FBI agent in the federal criminal complaint.

 

 

Munafo is shown on far left carrying an American flag which he used to smash a window at the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021. Both the FBI and internet sleuths had identified the man as one of the most violent of the Capitol insurrectionists and given him the hashtag #BoyintheHood

After attending a Trump re-election rally in Las Vegas, Munafo made his way back to the east coast where he had his several run ins with law enforcement which included, in September and November, more weapons and assault charges in Massachusetts, more again in Washington, D.C. in December after the defeat of Trump in the November presidential election.

On January 5th, 2021–the day before the Trump fueled and sanctioned insurrection in Washington and at the height of the mass propaganda campaign claiming dark forces had conspired to steal the election from Trump, Munafo parked at a Dunns, North Carolina truck stop, his vehicle flying a “Blue Lives Matter” flag and adorned with numerous pro-Trump signage, and made 143 threatening calls to Calhoun County, Michigan 911 dispatchers, threatening to kill and hurt the sheriff’s deputies, according to geo-location evidence, his Google email accounts, his failed attempt to obscure his phone number, and other social media obtained by subpoena and obtained by the FBI. 

Like all calls to law enforcement emergency numbers, the calls were recorded and captured Mufano–telling the cops his name was “Yankee Patriot”–being very impolite and abusive, telling a 911 dispatcher he was going “to cut your throat” and reciting accurate information of her home address and mortgage payment arrangements during the 143 calls in a three hour period the Sheriff’s office said “tied up the entire county emergency response system,” according to law enforcement records.

The western Michigan Calhoun County sheriff was not amused and contacted the FBI who then launched a federally court approved Jihad to find out who the caller was, FBI criminal complaints and U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan documents show.

They were entirely unaware that hours later on the next day of January 6, Munafo would attract the attention of other law enforcement agencies and more FBI jurisdictions for assaulting law enforcement while violently entering the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

“I have listened to approximately three hours of MUNAFO’s calls, which were recorded by (Calhoun County Michigan Sheriff’s Office) CCSO. MUNAFO advised the 911 dispatcher that he knew where she lived, and recited accurate information about her mortgage and tax obligations,” reads an FBI affidavit seeking a criminal complaint against Munafo dated January 20, 2021.

“Put a fucking cop on the phone now you stupid bitch, or it’s going to go way worse for your family!” Munafo told the Michigan Sheriff’s Office 911 dispatcher, according to the then sealed FBI arrest warrants. “Bitch, I’m gonna cut your throat. I’m gonna make you eat your fucking nose. I’m gonna hurt you bad for this. It won’t be today, it won’t be tomorrow, it’ll be fucking soon though, you stupid cunt. Insurrection Act, I’m coming to your door first and it’s public knowledge, you stupid, stupid bitch!” 

 

At the time, the same man who was photographed January 6 in Washington, D.C. punching Capitol Police officers in the head and ripping away their riot shields, had not yet been identified but was listed as one of the top ten violent insurrectionists by the FBI who released photographs of him at the Capitol building and made a public appeal for help to to identify him.

The FBI said the still unidentified Munafo was the assailant responsible for “one of the most violent and horrifying assaults on federal officers during the January 6th riots at the Capitol. We need your help to identify these individuals.”

 

 

 

In separate criminal investigations, FBI and local law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts, Michigan, and Washington, D.C. were aggressively pursuing Mufano on the same day of the Capitol riots with no idea that other law enforcement were doing the same thing at the same time he was assaulting law enforcement officers and attempting to overthrow the government in Washington.

 

“On or about January 6, 2021, CCSO Detective Jonathan Pignataro (of Calhoun County, Michigan) determined through public records that the phone number making the threat calls was issued by “Bandwidth.com,” an internet phone service provider. A representative of Bandwidth.com advised Det. Pignataro that the number was resold by another internet phone service provider, Textnow.com. Det. Pignataro served Textnow.com an emergency disclosure request, followed by a search warrant. Textnow.com provided the subscriber’s username, gmail address, and IP addresses used at the time of the threat calls, all of which were determined to belong to MUNAFO,” reads a federal criminal complaint from the Middle District of Michigan.

“Also on January 6, 2021, Det. Pignataro served a search warrant on Google LLC, for the gmail account associated with the Textnow.com number. Google disclosed that the subscriber had provided the recovery e-mail address jonathan.munafo@XXXXX.com, and sign-in phone number (508) 418-XXXX.”

“(Calhoun County Michigan) Det. Pignataro’s search warrant establishes that MUNAFO was at a truck stop in Dunn, North Carolina when he placed the threat calls to the Calhoun County Dispatcher on January 5, 2021. In response to the Calhoun County search warrant, Google also provided MUNAFO’s internet search history for January 5, 2021, the day before the assault on the U.S. Capitol. MUNAFO searched for information on “Calhoun sheriff Michigan.” Among other search terms disclosed by Google, MUNAFO also searched for “Freedom Plaza, Washington, DC,” several firearms and military surplus stores, and (Michigan governor) “Gretchen Whitmer” on January 4 and 5, 2021. His whereabouts are currently unknown,” reads the January 2021 police report.

 

“If I had known all this was going to happen, I wouldn’t have lent him my car,” the owner of the vehicle with New York State Naval Militia license plates said this week in a telephone interview.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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