Editor’s note: This story was first published in The Fayetteville Observer.

A Special Forces veteran accused of participating in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots remained in custody Wednesday, more than three years after the attacks.

Jeffrey McKellop, 58, is a decorated Army veteran who previously served with the 3rd Special Forces Group, according to court records. He was among 1,265 people charged in the assault on the U.S. Capitol that resulted in more than $2.88 million in costs and damages and disrupted the certification of Joe Biden as president.

McKellop retired from the Army on Aug. 12, 2010, at then-Fort Bragg after serving more than 20 years, including nine years with the Special Forces, his military records show.

According to the second superseding grand jury indictment, McKellop is charged with:

  • 10 counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers.
  • Two counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers using a deadly or dangerous weapon.
  • One count of civil disorder.
  • One count of entering and remaining on restricted grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon.
  • One count of disorderly and disruptive conduct on restricted grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon.
  • One count of engaging in physical violence on restricted grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon.
  • One count of engaging in physical violence within the Capitol grounds.

He pleaded not guilty to all counts. McKellop’s Dec. 11 trial date was rescheduled for May after he requested new legal representation.

Changes in attorneys

Federal prosecutors filed a Dec. 12 motion requesting a status conference on the case following a Nov. 22 court approval of McKellop’s request to terminate Phillip Linder and James Bright as his attorneys.

“They will be the seventh and eighth lawyers the defendant has rejected,” a Nov. 13 prosecution motion states.

Court record shows that McKellop is now represented by attorneys Michael Lawlor and Adam Demetrious.

Psychiatric evaluation

An April 3 court order required a psychological evaluation of McKellop after finding “that the defendant Jeffrey McKellop is mentally incompetent” following a hearing and a “preponderance of evidence.”

In March, the judge denied McKellop’s request to waive a jury trial pending the outcome of his competency evaluation.

Court records show that McKellop was transferred to Federal Medical Center, Fort Worth on April 28 to undergo a competency evaluation with the exam findings due by June 27. The results of that evaluation were not available, and an Aug. 21 order laid out a schedule for trial preparations.


McKellop has previously filed a series of motions seeking to have the case dismissed.

In a September 2022 motion, he argued that President Joe Biden “has intentionally and irreparably poisoned the entire nation as a jury pool,” citing comments Biden made about the riots during a Sept. 1, 2022, address.

During his remarks, the president said Donald Trump and his Make America Great Again supporters view the mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 “not as insurrectionists who placed a dagger to the throat of our democracy, but they look at them as patriots.”

McKellop also sought to move his trial out of Washington D.C. claiming in a March 2022 motion that he would not receive a fair trial and impartial jury there because about “93% of voters in Washington voted against Donald Trump” and that media coverage was unfair toward the Jan. 6 events and related arrests.

In reply to the government’s opposition to the dismissal, McKellop further referenced Biden’s Jan. 1, 2022, speech, arguing that “the president’s poisoning of the jury pool has obstructed the conduct of an impartial trial.

McKellop has also argued for pretrial release, claiming that in the summer of 2021, his cell was searched and that federal agents took 70 documents of McKellop’s notes about his case.

“The repeated measures by which the jail staff has prevented Defendant’s access to his own discovery have precluded his replicating the seized notes,” a December 2022 motion stated. “These measures have not only rendered impossible any reasonable semblance of assisting in the preparation of his trial defense ...”

In a Dec. 8, 2022 motion, federal prosecutors said that jail staff confiscated McKellop’s hard drive and returned it to him and that documents were seized in 2022 tied to a computer fraud investigation and would be returned.


McKellop is accused of entering the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, 2021, with flagpoles, a helmet, tactical vest, protective eyewear and gas mask and remaining in the area 90 minutes after police told the crowd to leave.

The government alleges that McKellop threw objects at officers three times before pressing toward the police line and scaffolding near the southwest area of the Capitol.  There, he is accused of trying to grab a can of riot-control spray from a lieutenant’s hand, throwing a bottle at a line of officers, grabbing another officer, striking a sergeant and assaulting another officer by shoving her to the side.

At one point, McKellop reportedly appeared to assist an officer who fell to the ground, then allegedly struck a captain in the face, causing lacerations and scarring, and allegedly threw a flagpole “as though it were a spear” at the captain.

McKellop also allegedly attacked from behind another officer attempting to contain rioters and threw another object at officers, the government said.

McKellop said he was unarmed and did not intend on rioting when he and a friend traveled to Washington, D.C., to the Jan. 6 rally with held by then-President Donald Trump.

In a letter included in the record, the friend who accompanied McKellop, Scott Steiert, said McKellop was concerned that “anti-Trumpers” would attack him for his political views.

Steiert said McKellop brought his body armor with him as a defense against “any attack possibly from anti-Trumpers.”

In a Feb. 27, 2023, motion, U.S. attorneys sought to prohibit McKellop from being able to knowledge of Capital surveillance camera locations, information provided to his attorneys for trail preparation, because it would compromise security concerns.

Prosecutors said the bulk of video evidence comes from body cameras worn by police or videos taken by members of the crowd.

U.S. attorneys also sought to prohibit McKellop from being able to argue that law enforcement permitted defendants to enter the Capitol.

Citing a prior case that argued former President Trump gave defendants permission to enter the Capitol, prosecutors said that no president or members of law enforcement can use their authority to “allow individuals to enter the Capitol building during a violent riot,” especially when there were “obvious police barricades, police lines, and police orders restricting entry at the Capitol.”

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