Why Springfield man was arrested after Capitol riots

Gregory J. Holman
Springfield News-Leader
Social media postings linked to Zachary H. Martin of Springfield, arrested and charged on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 for activity in connection with the U.S. Capitol riots, were entered into evidence against Martin.

When criminal suspects post video of potential crimes to the internet, law enforcement takes a look.

That's the gist of charging documents dated Jan. 21 that were posted by the U.S. Justice Department late Thursday, which began to shed light on the investigation that led to the arrest of Zachary Hayes Martin of Springfield, accused of participating in an uprising at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The riots followed a speech by then-President Donald J. Trump and repeated false and baseless claims by Trump and others that Trump won the 2020 presidential election.

A witness told the FBI that they observed public posts on Facebook indicating that Martin had been present at the rioting. 

Zachary Martin

Martin, FBI said, live-streamed video of himself inside the U.S. Capitol building. 

Two other witnesses told the FBI that they had watched Martin's livestream and recognized him inside the Capitol. A fourth witness told an FBI special agent that in the week prior to the rioting, Martin and the witness met up at a Springfield bar, and Martin told the witness he planned to travel to Washington, D.C. A fifth witness told a special agent that they'd known Martin personally for "several years," saw Martin on the livestreamed Facebook video and provided a phone number for Martin to the FBI. 

Martin appeared to have closed down his Facebook account on Jan. 10, FBI said in the charging documents, and the video link appeared to be inactive within a week of the rioting. But FBI was able to trace the Facebook video link back to Martin's individual Facebook user ID number registered to the vanity name "Zac Martin."

On Jan. 12, FBI personnel found Martin's drivers license photo through a Missouri Department of Revenue database. They then matched Martin's image to a New York Times photo that shows a painting of former New York Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm inside the Capitol building; Martin appeared to be standing by the same Chisholm painting while live-streaming his video.

On that basis, the FBI said, they had probable cause to arrest Martin.

He is charged with two federal counts: being on restricted buildings or grounds; as well as unlawful activities on Capitol grounds including disorderly conduct or demonstrating in the U.S. Capitol.

Reach News-Leader reporter Gregory Holman by emailing gholman@gannett.com. Please consider subscribing to support vital local journalism.