FBI most wanted Capitol suspect searched for Whitmer online, feds say

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

A New York man who searched online for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the location of gun stores in the days leading up to the Jan. 6 insurrection was among the most wanted Capitol violence suspects because he allegedly assaulted an officer, according to the FBI.

Jonathan Munafo, 34, of Albany is shown on camera punching a U.S. Capitol Police officer before ripping the officer's riot shield out of his hand and striking a window with a flagpole, FBI Special Agent Michael Bauknight wrote in an affidavit unsealed Tuesday.

Jonathan Munafo is accused of punching a U.S. Capitol Police officer during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Munafo's actions, and the FBI's public plea for tips leading to his arrest, led to Munafo being known by the hashtag “#boyinthehood" because he was seen wearing a black hooded jacket during the insurrection.

Munafo is among more than 400 people charged in connection with the insurrection, including eight people from Michigan.

The affidavit was unsealed four days after Munafo was arrested following a three-month manhunt and charged in a separate case with communicating an interstate threat in the latest case alleging extremism in Michigan. In that case, Munafo is accused of threatening an emergency dispatcher in Calhoun County.

Donald Trump supporters, including Payton Fore (foreground left), her mother Lou Ann Fore (red shirt) and Jonathan Munafo (center in blue shirt) greet others outside the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla., on Monday, June 15, 2020.

Social media posts portray Munafo as a supporter of former President Donald Trump. His Twitter feed includes videos shot at various Trump rallies in Las Vegas and South Carolina during the presidential race last year and his avatar shows Munafo taking a selfie from the front row of one Trump rally.

The insurrection case involving Munafo starts with Munafo being spotted during a battle at the Lower West Terrace of the Capitol, just outside the tunnel, according to the unsealed affidavit.

A video showed a man dressed in a black hooded jacket punching an officer twice in the head and body before stealing the officer's riot shield.

"Once he took it out of the officer’s hands, the individual then passed the riot shield back to others in the crowd behind him," the FBI agent wrote.

The FBI said these screengrabs show Jonathan Munafo punching the U.S. Capitol Police officer.

Two months later, on March 18, the FBI solicited tips from the public to identify the man in the black hooded jacket, calling him one of the 10 most wanted Capitol violence suspects.

Two tipsters helped identify Munafo, including one longtime friend, according to the affidavit.

"I know it's him," the tipster told agents.

Jonathan Munafo is accused of using a flagpole to strike a window at the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Investigators found Munafo's account on Twitter and matched his avatar photo to video shot during the insurrection.

Agents also found a February 2020 news media interview of Munafo during which he is seen wearing the same dark North Face hooded jacket, according to the court filing.

Munafo was arrested Friday in Orlando, Florida in connection with the threats involving the Calhoun County dispatcher. During that investigation, investigators searched Munafo's Google account and checked his search history.

FBI agents used this video of Jonathan Munafo being interviewed in 2020 to identify him as one of the U.S. Capitol violence suspects.

On Jan. 5, the day before the Capitol insurrection, Munafo searched for information about the Calhoun County sheriff, according to court filings.

Munafo also allegedly searched for “Freedom Plaza, Washington, DC,” the location of several pro-Trump demonstrations last fall protesting the presidential election results. Munafo also allegedly searched for several firearms and military surplus stores, and “Gretchen Whitmer” on Jan. 4 and Jan. 5.


Twitter: @robertsnellnews