After breaching the Capitol and walking through the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., prosecutors say Maryann Mooney-Rondon and her son Rafael Rondon found a pair of escape hoods — head coverings meant to protect members of Congress from poisonous gases — and exited the building.
Mooney-Rondon, 55, and Rondon, 23, both of Watertown, N.Y., were arrested on Friday, prosecutors said. According to court documents, the Rondons have been charged with a slew of misdemeanors, including theft of government property and disorderly conduct in a restricted building — as well as a felony for obstructing an official proceeding.
Rafael Rondon has also been charged with possessing an unregistered sawed-off shotgun. An attorney was not listed for the mother and son in the charging documents.
The pair is not only accused of stealing the escape hoods. Prosecutors also allege the Rondons helped another rioter, who is not named in court documents, steal a laptop sitting on a conference table in Pelosi’s office.
The laptop appears to be the same one prosecutors allege was stolen with the help of Riley June Williams. Prosecutors accuse Williams, a Pennsylvania woman who was 22 at the time of her arrest, of filming another person take the laptop, and then subsequently bragging about the theft online. In court, Williams’s attorney has called the allegations “false.” Affidavits in both cases mention a seconds-long video in which a woman — federal agents say is believed to be Williams — told someone: “Dude, put on gloves.”
Mooney-Rondon told investigators that she lent a pair of gloves to a person attempting to steal the laptop, according to the affidavit. Her son told investigators that he helped the man place it in a bag.
“While we were in the office, one of the [individuals] … was trying to rip the ethernet cords to one of the laptops, and he yelled at me and my mother to help him,” Rafael Rondon told the FBI, according to the affidavit. “And I was honestly a little bit afraid. … So I assisted him a little bit, and that was probably stupid of me.”
It took investigators several months to properly identify the mother-son pair. In April, the FBI accidentally raided the home of Marilyn Hueper, an Alaska Trump supporter agents believed was the mother figure in videos of the riot, HuffPost reported. Hueper was not suspected of entering the Capitol, and the investigation continued until it led to Mooney-Rondon.
The mother and son were among the many rioters to enter Pelosi’s office during the insurrection. Eight members of Pelosi’s staff reportedly barricaded themselves in a room for 2½ hours as rioters ransacked the office, pounded on doors and said they were searching for the speaker and her aides. One rioter, Richard “Bigo” Barnett, was infamously photographed lounging with his feet on a desk in Pelosi’s office. Barnett allegedly stole a piece of mail, a charge he denies, and left behind a quarter with a note addressed to Pelosi. He now faces multiple federal charges.
The Rondons join the 600-odd people charged in connection with the Jan. 6 riot that delayed the certification of 2020 presidential election results.
Only minutes after members of the House and Senate were evacuated from their chambers around 2:20 p.m. – along with the former vice president – security cameras captured the mother and son entering the Capitol through the Senate wing door. Prosecutors say the duo moved through the crypt, then up to the second floor, where they entered the speaker’s suite.
Mooney-Rondon told investigators that she lent an unidentified man a pair of gloves, and he lifted the laptop off the table, according to the affidavit. “I’m pretty sure I saw him put it in a backpack … probably 100 percent,” Mooney-Rondon told the FBI, according to the affidavit.
Her son told the FBI that he helped the man place it in the backpack, according to the affidavit. “I think I like pushed [it] in his bag a little bit using a glove ’cause he didn’t want to get his fingerprints on it,” Rondon told investigators.
From Pelosi’s office, the mother and son made their way into the Senate gallery, joining several dozen rioters in the area that overlooks the floor. Surveillance footage captured the Rondons each carrying an escape hood after they left the Senate chambers.
About 30 minutes after they had entered the Capitol, the mother and son exited the building. Photographs show Rafael Rondon wearing one of the hoods on the east front steps of the Rotunda.
While only the son was photographed in one of the hoods, images of the pair making off with the protective gear earned them the titles “AirheadLady” and “AirheadBoy” from online sleuths before their names were known.