Falkville man facing felony charges related to Jan. 6 riots
By Michael Wetzel
For the Enquirer
A Morgan County man traced by investigators in part through his “Alabama Crimson Tide” sweatshirt was charged with criminal activity in the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riots following his arrest Aug. 24 at his home across the street from Falkville High School.
Bobby Wayne Russell, 48, was charged with “assaulting, resisting, or impeding law enforcement officers and interfering with a law enforcement officer during a civil disorder,” both felony charges, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release. He also was charged with four related misdemeanors.
Russell became the second resident of southern Morgan County arrested in the Capitol riot probe.
Bill Miller, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday afternoon said Russell made an initial appearance at the federal courthouse in Decatur. “He was released pending further proceedings in the District of Columbia,” Miller said in an email to The Decatur Daily. He said a virtual hearing for Russell is tentatively set for Sept. 1 at 1 p.m. in D.C.
The FBI did not disclose Russell’s address, but according to county court records his last known address was on West Second Street adjacent to Clark Drive, less than 500 feet from Falkville High.
Morgan County sheriff’s spokesman Mike Swafford said the school’s resource officer notified school administration and the Sheriff’s Office of the FBI’s presence near the campus before school started.
The SRO officer “remained on the scene as it was secured and then relocated to the school. The incident did not affect the school,” Swafford said.
Court documents indicate Russell was among rioters confronting police officers at a line of bicycle barricades on the southwest side of the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, 2021, when his actions and the actions of others disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress convened to count the electoral votes related to the presidential election.
Documents said Russell resisted police orders to “move away” at about 1:56 p.m. “After he was sprayed by a police officer with a chemical irritant, Russell grabbed onto a bike rack. The barricade broke apart, and Russell pulled the jacket of a Metropolitan Police Department officer, causing both to fall at least four steps to the ground,” the documents said.
The files said later that day, about 4:20 p.m., officers formed a line to attempt to clear the area near the Senate wing doors. According to the documents, Russell refused to leave the area and pushed his back and buttocks into the riot shields of several officers. He told one officer, “I’m not scared of you and I’m not weak,” the court filings said.
The investigating special agent, whose name was redacted in the court filings, said videos from body cameras worn by the Metropolitan Police Department, and mobile records obtained from Google and AT&T identified Russell as the suspect “wearing a brown coat, a red hooded sweatshirt with the words ‘Alabama Crimson Tide’ on the front, a red and white hat, jeans and brown shoes.”
A Prince George County, Maryland, corporal, interviewed by the special agent, said Russell told police, “There’s more of us than you guys, you’re gonna lose,” according to the affidavit.
The agent wrote in the affidavit he found a photo on Facebook to an account titled “bobby.russell.927” posted on Jan. 19, 2021, that showed Russell and his wife standing in front of Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool with the Washington Monument in the background. The image showed Russell wearing the same clothes he wore during the rioting.
The 16-page affidavit and arrest warrant were filed Aug. 23, according to the court papers.
This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Department of Justice National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.
Court records show Russell has been convicted on burglary, theft and drug charges dating back to 2010.
On Jan. 7, 2021, Lonnie Coffman, 71, of the Lacon community, south of Falkville, was arrested for his alleged role in the Capitol riots. On Jan. 26, 2021, federal agents spent about seven hours removing items from his rural Morgan County home near the Cullman County line. In November, Coffman pleaded guilty to possessing unregistered firearms including Molotov cocktails and carrying a pistol without a license. He was sentenced to 46 months in prison.
The Department of Justice said since the rioting incident, more than 860 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states. More than 260 are facing charges related to assaulting or impeding law enforcement.