LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — One year after the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack, two men arrested for their alleged involvement that day remain inside a Washington, D.C., jail – a judge deeming them too dangerous to release.
The FBI arrested Nate DeGrave, 32, and Ronald “Ronnie” Sandlin, 34, outside of DeGrave’s apartment near the Las Vegas Strip on Jan. 29.
Documents released earlier this year revealed investigators were given an anonymous tip that led them to DeGrave and in turn, Sandlin, whose car was parked outside.
On his Instagram, DeGrave says he is the CEO of a celebrity event planner and adult model management company. Speaking to I-Team’s David Charns from jail in October, DeGrave said he hoped to run for Las Vegas mayor in 2024.
DeGrave said he does not dispute he went inside the Capitol building but disagrees with what investigators said he was doing.
“We’re not violent people,” DeGrave said about himself and fellow Jan. 6 arrestees. “We’re not extremists. We’re not domestic terrorists.”
Sandlin, 34, an internet marketer, lived in Las Vegas for several years before moving to Tennessee to be closer to family in 2020. He said he intended to return to Las Vegas soon after.
On Dec. 23, 2020, Sandlin posted on Facebook asking who else was traveling to Washington. DeGrave replied that he was considering joining him, according to prosecutors.
“It’s time the American people rise and stand up for this country,” DeGrave wrote, according to prosecutors. “We’re tired of the corruption.”
A photo posted on DeGrave’s Facebook page, which has since been deactivated, showed a photo of former President Donald Trump in his apartment with the caption, “My idol in my living room.” DeGrave told the I-Team it was common for Americans to have a picture of the president, former or current, in their homes.
Sandlin had written on social media in January 2021 that he had planned to drive to Washington from Memphis. According to court documents, a post from Sandlin said he was asking for money through a GoFundMe page.
“Who is going to Washington D.C. on the 6th of January?” a post provided to authorities in court documents said. “I’m going to be there to show support for our president and to do my part to stop the steal and stand behind Trump when he decides to cross the rubicon. If you are a patriot I believe it’s your duty to be there.”
Sandlin, DeGrave and a third man, Josiah Colt, met in Washington to attend the president’s “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6. Prosecutors said the trio came to the area with weapons. Sandlin had a knife with him during the Capitol riot, but did not use or show it, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors repeatedly have said it is tactical gear; DeGrave said he was wearing a motorcycle jacket.
“The government has you saying a week before on Facebook that you wanted to bring bullet-proof gear,” Charns told DeGrave.
“You know I say a lot of things on social media,” DeGrave replied. “I think it’s more important to look at the actions I take and not the words I say.”
“I’ve worn the MAGA cap outside and have had people spit on me,” Sandlin said. “We’ve had years where if you support Donald Trump — you are, you could be subject to violence. All of our conversations of, when we talked about violence was, ‘Hey we need to protect ourselves against violence. We need to make sure we are prepared to defend ourselves.’”
Shortly after arriving on Capitol grounds, DeGrave and the two other men followed the crowd into the Capitol. While inside, DeGrave and Sandlin pushed several U.S. Capitol Police officers guarding an exterior door to the Capitol rotunda, prosecutors said.
But DeGrave said there is no evidence of him pushing any law enforcement officer and that rather than taking part in the insurrection, he said his actions show he was shooting a documentary.
Surveillance images from inside the Capitol show DeGrave standing with his fists raised, though it’s unclear why. Sandlin is carrying a camera. During an April court hearing for Sandlin, prosecutors mentioned Sandlin had attempted to sell footage of the riot before he was arrested in January.
“I was unarmed inside the Capitol,” DeGrave said. “I never brought a weapon inside the Capitol at any point.”
No community where Sandlin is known to have resided, including Las Vegas, can find a record of him voting this past presidential cycle, the I-Team reported last winter. However, Sandlin told the I-Team he mailed in a ballot.
There is no record of him voting.
Video from Jan. 6 shows Sandlin in the Capitol building. At one point, he is in the gallery of the U.S. Senate Chamber. Video evidence shows Sandlin trying to rip a helmet off a police officer and opening up doors to the Senate chamber, prosecutors said.
Sandlin was also seen on video smoking weed inside the building. He is heard on the video saying, “People are smoking weed in here. Thank you, patriot. We made history in here,” according to court documents.
I knew we took it too far. I knew that there would be consequences,” Sandlin told the I-Team.
Among the other evidence prosecutors have filed against him, a 10-minute video taken between the rally and the Capitol breach. In the video, Sandlin, DeGrave and Colt are eating at a restaurant and talking about their plan.
“I think it’s time to take the Capitol. I don’t say that lightly,” Sandlin said.
Sandlin said he came to Washington, in part, due to his belief of widespread voter fraud. Even before Jan. 6, leaders of both parties, including then-Attorney General Bill Barr, a Republican, said the former president’s claims of fraud were lies.
“Did former President Trump’s words incite your behavior on Jan. 6?” Charns asked Sandlin in an interview in December.
“I think so. I think that you know when you say, that ‘You’ve got to fight for your country, otherwise we’re going to have [inaudible], that we’re going to go to the Capitol, I mean, he’s one of the most powerful persons in the world,” Sandlin said.
“Freedom is paid for with blood and tyranny always masquerades itself as safety and security,” Sandlin said in the video.
Sandlin told the I-Team his comments were taken out of context.
“It was a political rally,” he said. “There’s going to be political hyperbole, you know, ‘Give me liberty or give me death.’ We got caught up in the moment. We got caught up in a mob mentality.”
Sandlin said he believed something could be done to overturn the election by going to the Capitol, possibly by swaying lawmakers’ decision to certify the vote.
“The videos show one thing, but that’s not always the full truth,” Sandlin said. “If people actually talk to us, I think that they would realize that we’re normal Americans and we have a lot more in common with each other than differences.”
Five people died in the insurrection.
DeGrave and Sandlin have pleaded not guilty to the charges filed against them, which include assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers, civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding and aiding and abetting. They are expected to go on trial this year.
The Jan. 6 investigation involves more than 5,000 subpoenas and search warrants, 2,000 electronic devices and 20,000 hours of video, according to Attorney General Merrick Garland.
As of Jan. 6, 2022, 300,000 tips to the FBI have ended in 700 arrests in all 50 states.