EXCLUSIVE: RNC Security Officer Who Was First Responder To Jan 6 Pipe Bomb Says Official Story ‘Makes No Sense Whatsoever’

In first public remarks since incident, former Capitol Police officer says planted pipe bomb looked like police training item, should have been detected
The device witnessed on January 6, 2021 behind the Capitol Hill Club near the RNC / Ken Capolino
The device witnessed on January 6, 2021 behind the Capitol Hill Club near the RNC / Ken Capolino

The Republican National Committee’s director of security said that the explanation of the purported January 6 pipe bomb plot, and the response by authorities, “make no sense whatsoever.”

Kenneth Capolino, a former Capitol Police officer who went on to work as the RNC’s director of security, was the man who personally alerted Capitol Police to the bomb near the RNC and managed the emergency response.

Capolino told The Daily Wire, in his first public remarks on the incident, that it looked like a stereotypical IED, or improvised explosive device, that is used by law enforcement in training sessions. “Any of the IED awareness training I’ve been to with law enforcement, that’s like the quintessential training device,” he told The Daily Wire. “That’s exactly what it looks like.”

His firsthand account adds to questions about the purported pipe bombs, which went undetected for a long period of time outside both the RNC and its Democrat counterpart, the Democratic National Committee. The bomb plot is by far the most dramatic part of January 6, but the FBI has made no progress in determining who planted them — and Democrats investigating the plot appear to have gone out of their way to avoid mentioning their existence since.

Capolino says law enforcement would be able to identify the device immediately upon seeing it.

“They set up scenarios like that so you know what to look for, so they have to make training devices,” he said. “There was so much about January 6, but nothing about the pipe bombs, which I thought was so, so strange.”

The bomb, found minutes before protesters entered the Capitol, was attached to a 60-minute egg timer, but it had been there since the night before. “I was two feet from it. Why would someone construct a device with a one-hour kitchen timer, place it 8:30 p.m. the night before, if they intended for it to detonate 16 hours later?” he asked.

Though referred to in the media as the RNC bomb, it was actually at the neighboring Capitol Hill Club, a Republican hangout. Capolino said his guards would have found it during their hourly sweeps if it was on RNC property.

A similar bomb was found minutes after the RNC bomb was detected, directly in front of the DNC beside a bench, raising questions about how the DNC would not have located it for seventeen hours, despite a bomb-sniffing dog that walked by it. Kamala Harris, at the time a U.S. Senator and the vice-president elect, was at the DNC, meaning there would likely be extra security in place, Capolino explained.

Capolino said it’s implausible that the Secret Service would not have swept the DNC premises before Harris entered, and that “if anyone was patrolling the DNC that should have been found at like 9 p.m.”

But Capolino said that whether or not it was a real bomb, the FBI’s story that it was placed at 8:30 p.m. on January 5 is true, at least for the Capitol Hill Club. He personally retrieved, reviewed, and handed over to the FBI, RNC footage showing the suspect. “We have the guy walking through the back alleyway at that time,” he said.

Surveillance video identified recently by Rep. Thomas Massie showed that after a passerby informed police officers of the DNC bomb, the officers dawdled casually for multiple minutes, even letting children walk in front. Capolino said that was odd: “Our response at the RNC was very quick. Watching the video of the DNC response, I was surprised at the delay in reaction.”

The DNC would not tell The Daily Wire whether, like the RNC, it evacuated staff from the building upon finding the bomb.

Massie told The Daily Wire that residents of Capitol Hill reported that it wasn’t until about six months ago—more than two years after the fact—that the FBI knocked on doors in the area to ask residents if they had seen anything related to the bomb.

Capolino said that although he provided video to the FBI immediately after the event, the FBI showed up at the home of the security officer who was manning the booth six months ago to reinterview him, and asked for his supervisor’s information, “but I never heard from them.”

The FBI initially released only a couple of grainy pictures of the suspect, despite the existence of many more videos and photos. The still photos made it impossible for people to identify the suspect by the way he walked, Capolino said.

“I’m the last one to speculate, but it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t at all,” he said.

Eight months later, the FBI released video that showed that after the suspect placed the purported bombs, he circled back to the Capitol Hill Club and, while directly in front of the scene of the crime, waved to a police officer who drove by. “This may be something or nothing,” Capolino said.

Surveillance footage shows that after the suspect placed the pipe bombs on January 5, he waved to a police officer. / FBI

The FBI has arrested more than 1,200 people for charges as minor as trespassing at the Capitol on January 6, using high-tech techniques like “geofencing” cell phone records. But despite video showing the suspect using a cell phone on January 5, an FBI official told Congress that it could not find the suspect in cell phone records, perhaps because a batch of cell phone data had gone missing.

Journalist Julie Kelly reported that the Capitol Hill resident who found the bomb near the RNC, Karlin Younger, worked for an FBI contractor. The news outlet Public on Monday quoted a security analyst questioning Younger’s demeanor in the video of her discovering the bomb, saying she “never expressed any worry” and “leaned down and placed her ear near the device to listen if the timer was ticking.”

Younger approached the RNC’s guard shack to ask for whoever was in charge. The guard summoned Capolino.

“I spoke to her and she said, ‘I was taking out my garbage and I see this weird pipe thingy with wires coming out of it,’ so I ran over there and there it was next to the garbage cans,” he said. He took a picture of the bomb and walked towards the Capitol South Metro station, where he knew a Capitol Police officer would be stationed, and showed him the picture.

“He immediately alerted USCP command center via radio, I used the guards that I had to set up containment while Capitol Police set up their quarantine, then we went into the building to evacuate while that was going on. Shortly after that was when the FBI used their bomb robot. I saw them manipulating the robot. I’m not sure what method of disposal they used for the device, but I believe they disrupted it,” he said.

As a result of law enforcement closing off the area, they noticed a red pickup truck full of a cache of weapons, Capolino said. The truck was parked in a prominent spot in front of the RNC and near the Capitol South Metro, a highly-policed area. “So there were two separate FBI crime scenes going on simultaneously,” he said.

The owner of the vehicle eventually identified himself to law enforcement because the pipe bomb quarantine prevented him from retrieving his vehicle.

To Capolino, the pipe bomb and the truck full of weapons and Molotov cocktails directly outside of the RNC and next to Capitol office buildings, were the most dramatic and dangerous elements of the day. Yet the pipe bombs were barely ever spoken of, and few even know the red pickup truck incident occurred.

“That doesn’t sit well with me. They’re not even talking about it,” he said.

A pickup truck full of weapons was parked in front of the RNC on January 6 and was discovered by officers responding to a pipe bomb. The DOJ gave its driver a favorable plea deal. / Ken Capolino

Court records confirm the red pickup truck incident and show that prosecutors offered a lenient plea deal to the owner of the weapons cache, even advocating for the judge to give him a lower sentence.

The records show that Lonnie Leroy Coffman, a 72-year-old veteran of the Vietnam war and Alabama resident, parked the pickup truck containing “loaded firearms within arms-reach of the driver’s seat, including a 9mm handgun, a rifle, and a shotgun. Also inside the pickup truck and in its covered bed were hundreds of rounds of ammunition, large-capacity ammunition feeding devices, a crossbow with bolts, machetes, camouflage smoke devices, a stun gun, cloth rags, lighters, a cooler containing eleven… Molotov cocktails” modified to operate like napalm. Coffman also had a gun on his person.

Prosecutors charged Coffman with 17 counts, then agreed to dismiss all but one count of possession of an unregistered firearm, a federal offense, and carrying a pistol without a license, a violation of city law.

They took a tone more sympathetic than that taken in the prosecution of unarmed protesters, with the prosecutor saying at sentencing that “he met with a woman who felt sorry for him and who also had her vehicle within that law enforcement perimeter, and she kind of felt sorry for him. It was cold. They didn’t know what to do, and they ended up going — jumping on the Metro and going to Pentagon City and sharing a pizza.”

Prosecutors never mentioned why Coffman had the weapons if they were so sure he did not intend to use them, leading the judge to say that “the key unanswered question for me, which is still frankly unanswered and probably won’t be able to be answered, is what was the purpose of driving all the way from Alabama to D.C. with these destructive items in his possession?”

Coffman was sentenced to 46 months in prison. The Department of Justice has sought stiffer sentences for at least 134 people who entered the Capitol than it did for the man who parked a truck full of guns and Molotov cocktails in one of D.C.’s prime locations, a Daily Wire review of sentencing records showed.

Prosecutors presented some evidence that suggests Coffman was not an FBI plant, including that he “was identified by law enforcement several years ago as a participant at an armed gathering of militia groups in Texas,” that he had notes about “leftists,” and that he had tried to contact Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) about election fraud concerns. (Cruz’s staff thought he was behaving oddly and rebuffed him.)

Democrats mentioned the pipe bombs and the red pickup truck only in the appendix of their January 6 report, on page 706. Then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund has called the pipe bombs a “diversionary” tactic that caused police to divert resources at a critical time, leading to trespassers entering the Capitol unimpeded.

Capolino, who previously was a senior member of a Capitol Police SWAT team, said he believes there should be more transparency around the events of that day.

“This whole thing just doesn’t make sense,” Capolino said. “People need to have all the information to find out what was actually going on. I don’t feel like the public is getting all the information.”

Related: FBI Tied January 6 Pipe Bomber To Metro Card Of Ex-Gov Official, But Blocked Interview Of Him, Former Agent Says

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  EXCLUSIVE: RNC Security Officer Who Was First Responder To Jan 6 Pipe Bomb Says Official Story ‘Makes No Sense Whatsoever’