Grandparents can be wonderful: they spoil you, and give you treats so long as you "don't tell your parents," and generally do everything in their power to add a little chaotic fun into your life — with, or without your mom and dad's permission. And sometimes, if you're particularly close with your grandmother, she'll give you a major tip to pass along to federal investigators trying to identify rioters who broke into the U.S. Capitol building as part of an unsuccessful insurrection attempt encouraged by the former President of the United States.
This week, FBI officials arrested Robert Lee Petrosh of Mays Landing, NJ, on a host of charges stemming from Petrosh's participation in the January 6 Capitol Riot. Petrosh, who was photographed several times during the course of the insurrection attempt, was identified to the FBI by an unnamed informant who called authorities after a conversation with his grandmother, of all people.
According to the just-released Statement of Facts document published by the DOJ after Petrosh's May 5th arrest (emphasis mine):
On January 17, 2021, an individual (W-1) called the FBI to report that PETROSH had entered the Capitol building on January 6, 2021. W-1 stated that W-1's grandmother is good friends with PETROSH's mother, and that PETROSH's mother told W-1's grandmother that PETROSH went inside the Capitol building on January 6.
The unnamed FBI agent who authored the document then goes on to describe how W-1 contacted the FBI to relay his grandmother's identification. W-1 also apparently initially mistook photographs of Petrosh for his brother, before finally correctly identifying him in late March. Petrosh, 51, eventually turned himself in this week, and was subsequently arrested. He has been charged with:
- Knowingly Entering or Remaining in any Restricted Building or Grounds Without Lawful Authority.
- Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in a Restricted Building or Grounds.
- Disorderly Conduct in a Capitol Building and Parading.
- Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building.
According to NBC, Petrosh was released on bail this week, and is slated to appear before a judge over Zoom on May 11.
If there's a lesson to be learned from all this, it's probably: "don't engage in an insurrection against Congress." But if there's a second lesson to learn here, I'd say it's: "grandmotherly gossip isn't always your friend."