WASHINGTON – The phrase “all is fair in love and war” took on a new meaning Friday, when a Texas man was arrested after boasting to a match in a dating app about participating in the Jan. 6 riot “from the very beginning.”
Andrew Taake of Houston was charged with assaulting police and storming the Capitol building. His arrest follows a months-long investigation spurred by a tip and a FedEx delivery driver who confirmed his identity to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to the government.
Taake made his initial court appearance Friday in the Southern District of Texas, according to a Department of Justice news release. His public defender did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Similarly to another arrested rioter, it all started with a conversation on Bumble, a dating app, according to court documents.
The unnamed Bumble user asked if he had been “near all the action.” Taake claimed he was pepper-sprayed by police after gathering to protest the presidential election results, according to a July 21 criminal complaint.
“About 30 minutes after being sprayed,” he said of a selfie showing him wearing a gray beanie and a dark gaiter. “Safe to say, I was the very first person to be sprayed that day … all while just standing there.”
The two never got to meet face to face.
Three days after the events, the match sent the conversation to officials, along with screenshots of Taake’s location on Jan. 6 — shown as Alexandria, Va., just outside Washington, D.C. — according to the complaint.
After the tip, officials reviewed flight records, security footage and photos and videos posted across social media. What they found was far more than a participant “peacefully standing there,” as Taake claimed on Bumble, according to the complaint.
A federal agent said images show the Texas man “using what appears to be a metal whip and pepper spray to attack law enforcement officers.”
Body-camera footage provided by D.C. police allegedly reveals Taake emerging from the crowd of rioters on the other side of a bike rack barricade crafted by the authorities. He pepper-sprayed the officers, retreated and is then seen “striking officers with a weapon that appears to be a whip,” the federal agent wrote.
Once the crowd managed to break into the building, the U.S. Senate’s security cameras caught Taake — with his whip still in hand — walking down the aisles, the complaint says.
But how did officials conclude it was him?
After gathering images, FBI agents showed them to a FedEx driver who had delivered a package “minutes before” at Taake’s address, according to court documents. The driver then identified Taake as the man in the photos, the goverment said.
An interview between the federal agent and Taake led to his identity confirmation after the official reviewed the amassed evidence, court documents said.
Authorities also said they found a link between Taake’s phone number and the Jan. 5 Spirit Airlines ticket to Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport that he bought from George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.
Identified in the document as the co-owner of a home-cleaning and pressure-washing service – officials matched the phone number listed on the company’s Facebook page with the cellphone Taake used to book his flight. According to the complaint, it was connected to cellphone sites that would be utilized from inside the Capitol building.
Taake faces charges including attempting to obstruct the work of law enforcement, causing a disturbance during a session of Congress and entering a restricted building that contained the vice president.
He is one of the more than 535 individuals to be arrested in breaching the Capitol and one of the more than 165 people charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.
Taake is also the second to have been charged after a Bumble encounter, though others have been flagged by the dating app.
“Bumble prohibits content that promotes racism or encourages any illegal activity including terrorism and the incitement of violence,” a spokesperson for the company said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Additionally, the spreading of misinformation, such as disputing the certified results of the U.S. Election, is prohibited.”