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Grandma gossip helped lead FBI to Capitol riot suspect, officials say



A conversation between two women led to the arrest of a New Jersey man in connection with the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, according to court documents.

More than a week after the siege led by supporters of former President Donald Trump, the mother of Robert Lee Petrosh told a friend that her son had participated in the mob that stormed into the Capitol, authorities said. That friend then told her grandson, who informed the FBI about his alleged role, according to the document.

Federal authorities first learned of Petrosh when an anonymous online tipster told the FBI that he “was on the steps” of the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to the complaint. Petrosh’s mother’s friend’s grandson and an FBI officer who knew Petrosh for about 15 years identified him in photos later that month, the document said.

Robert Lee Petrosh (circled) is seen during the January 6 raid of the U.S. Capitol building.

The photos were taken from inside the federal building, authorities said. In one of them, Petrosh appears to hold a cell phone in on one hand while wearing a black-long sleeved T-shirt, blue jeans and a green cross body-bag. The photo showed him sitting on a bench inside the Capitol.

In the second photo, he appears to wear the same outfit standing near the House wing door at about 3:20 p.m.

The FBI officer previously worked with and attended social gatherings with Petrosh, authorities said. He also said he occasionally sees Petrosh gardening.

Robert Lee Petrosh (circled) is charged in the January 6 raid of the U.S. Capitol building.

Petrosh, 51, of Mays Landing, New Jersey, turned himself in earlier this week.

He was charged with entering or remaining in any restricted building; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building; disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds; and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, according to court documents.

He was released on a $50,000 bond on Tuesday and is expected to appear in a Washington, D.C. court via Zoom on May 11.

Steven Sheffler, his lawyer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Petrosh was one of hundreds across the country who have been charged in connection with the attack, which left five dead, including a Capitol police officer.

The siege led to the unprecedented second impeachment of Trump, who held a rally before the riot occurred promoting falsely claimed election fraud. He was later acquitted in the Senate.

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