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'Q Shaman' Jacob Chansley to remain jailed pending Capitol riot trial

Capitol Breach Arrests
Posted at 9:16 AM, Jan 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-16 00:29:12-05

PHOENIX — Jacob Chansley, also known as the QAnon Shaman or Jake Angeli, will be held in custody until trial for his alleged role in storming the U.S. Capitol last week.

Chansley appeared by video conference in Phoenix federal courthouse for a detention hearing Friday. In an orange jumpsuit, with a bald head and short beard, Chansley looked dramatically different from the elaborate horned costume he appears in publicly.

Court sketches Jacob Chansley
Court sketch of Jacob Chansley on January 15, 2021.

Chansley’s attorney tried to get him released on GPS monitoring, but the judge ordered the 33-year-old self-professed shaman held in jail without bond. He will be transferred to Washington, DC, to stand trial.

Judge Deborah Fine described Chansley’s behavior as “active participation in a violent insurrection.“

Fine said Chansley could not be released because he posed too much of a flight risk and a danger to the community.

Chansley sat quietly and emotionless for most of the hearing. At the end he muttered, “Oh my God.”

"Chansley is the radicalized follower-turned-leader of a dangerous extremist group," said Michael Bailey, U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, in a legal brief filed Thursday.

The brief also said Chansley "made himself the most prominent symbol" of the "violent insurrection that attempted to overthrow the United States Government" and he had planned to return to Washington for Joe Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Allison backed away from that statement in court Friday, asking the judge to strike it from her deliberations for detention. Prosecutors said they may reassert the claim during trial.

"Strong evidence, including Chansley’s own words and actions at the Capitol, supports that the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States Government," the government's brief said.

The federal court's pretrial services report recommended that Chansley be released pending trial. The U.S. Attorney's brief said that report missed key information including Chansley's use of psychedelic drugs, mental health concerns relating to his QAnon conspiracy beliefs, and his ability to raise money in non-traditional ways contributing to his risk of flight.

The PSR report recommended that Chansley be released pending trial because the risks of flight and danger can be minimized by random drug testing, employment requirements, and documented travel only for the purpose of court appearances in the District of Columbia.

Chansley faces a six-count federal indictment, including two felonies and four misdemeanors:

  • Civil disorder
  • Obstruction of an official proceeding
  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building
  • Violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building
  • Parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol Building

Chansley appeared in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 wearing a fur headdress and horns. He had a spear with an American flag attached and was bare-chested in tan pants.

In their brief, federal prosecutors added pictures and additional evidence from the Capitol takeover.

In one picture, U.S. Capitol Police Officer Keith Robishaw was attempting to quell the crowd and move them out of the area. According to federal prosecutors, "Chansley approached Officer Robishaw and screamed, among other things, that this was their house, and that they were there to take the Capitol, and to get Congressional leaders."

Chansley also "used his bullhorn to communicate that they were there to take out several United States congressmen," according to the brief.

After making it onto the dais of the U.S. Senate Chamber, Chansley wrote a note to Vice President Pence saying, “it's only a matter of time, justice is coming,” according to the brief.

According to the FBI, Chansley told them he was glad he sat in the Vice President’s chair because Vice President Pence is a child-trafficking traitor. He also claimed the note was not intended as a threat, according to the prosecutor's brief.

Jacob Chansley's St. Louis lawyer, Albert Watkins, is asking Trump to do the "honorable thing and pardon those of his peaceful followers who accepted the president's invitation," according to a press release Thursday.

Chansley, 33, grew up in Phoenix and attended Moon Valley High School, according to former classmates. Wearing his “QAnon Shaman” outfit, Chansley was a regular participant at rallies supporting Donald Trump in recent months.

Chansley appeared telephonically in a Phoenix federal courtroom Monday. He was being held in a quarantine section of a detention facility, due to COVID-19 protocols. At that time, he was facing two misdemeanor charges. During Monday’s hearing, Chansley’s public defender said the man was on an extremely restrictive diet, perhaps for religious reasons, and had not eaten since he was taken into custody.

Judge Deborah Fine responded that information was “deeply concerning” and ordered Chansley’s public defender to communicate with the U.S. Marshal's Office on the dietary concerns. The U.S. Marshal’s Office told ABC15 that Chansley would be provided an organic diet in line with his shamanic diet.

Chansley’s mother, Martha, was in the courtroom Monday. Afterward, she explained his diet.

"He gets very sick if he doesn't eat organic food - literally will get physically sick,“ Martha Chansley said.

In an interview last week with ABC15, Martha Chansley was unapologetic for her son’s role in the violent disruption of Congress.

Members had to be evacuated while trying to certify votes from the November presidential election. Five people, including a Capitol police officer, died during or after the riot. A second officer, who was at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, died by suicide Saturday.

Martha Chansley referred to her son as a “patriot” and the “gentlest person I know.“

Got a news tip? Email ABC15 Investigator Melissa Blasius at Melissa.Blasius@abc15.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.