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A Lehigh County woman’s bear spray-stained walls helped identify her as a Capitol riot suspect

Kelly McFadden O'Brien's husband told FBI agents that a can of bear spray his wife took with her to Washington on Jan. 6 later exploded in the powder room of their Schnecksville home.

A woman FBI agents have identified as Kelly McFadden O'Brien is seen entering the Capitol building in this still from Jan. 6 security footage included in court filings.
A woman FBI agents have identified as Kelly McFadden O'Brien is seen entering the Capitol building in this still from Jan. 6 security footage included in court filings.Read moreDepartment of Justice Court Filings

Perhaps it was the video that Lehigh County resident Kelly McFadden O’Brien livestreamed from the Capitol steps that sealed federal prosecutors’ decision to charge her with participating in the Jan. 6 riot in Washington.

“We’re under the Joe fake Biden inaugural steps that he was supposed to be the fake president in,” she said, broadcasting amid the mob.

Or maybe it was the string of Facebook posts with selfies she took shortly after.

“I am in the front line,” she wrote, adding later: “We’re at the front door.”

Later still, she posted: “I’m out. I’m safe. Someone may have trashed a certain speaker of the house’s office. But I will never tell who.”

And if none of that sealed the deal, perhaps it was the orange stains agents found on her walls when they showed up at her Schnecksville home with a search warrant nearly three months later — remnants, her husband told them, from a can of bear or pepper spray that O’Brien took with her to Washington. It had exploded in her powder room after she returned.

O’Brien, a 49-year-old QAnon adherent, is at least the 55th Pennsylvania resident to face prosecution for participating in the Jan. 6 insurrection. Agents arrested her Aug. 18, but the charging documents in her case revealing the allegations against her were not made public until this week.

» READ MORE: An accused Jan. 6 rioter, dubbed ‘FashNSlash’ online, was arrested in N.J. for slashing Capitol Police tires

The court records detail an investigation that began within a week of the riot, when one of O’Brien’s Facebook friends reported the videos she shot, and stretched over months until the FBI obtained security footage showing her entering the Capitol building and a warrant to review material she’d posted and later deleted from the site out of fear it could result in her arrest.

“Please disregard/delete any video I previously shared from the capital [sic],” she wrote on Jan. 7. “I make no claim. I shared it only.”

Dozens of other posts and communications detailed in court filings chart her boasts of her “well-stocked” family armory, her admiration for militant right-wing extremist groups like the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys, and the Three Percenters, and her roller-coaster, postelection emotional journey.

» READ MORE: Wanted Lancaster County man with ties to GOP lawmaker Doug Mastriano arrested on Capitol riot charges

First came rage at the outcome of the 2020 vote.

“We have a duty to Our Country and Our Constitution. TO NOT COMPMLY! [sic,]” she wrote in a Nov. 21 post in the Facebook group “Impeach Governor Wolf.” “I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees. PATRIOTS UNTIED [sic]”

Then, unbridled confidence that President Donald J. Trump would snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

“Have no fear,” she wrote on Jan. 7. “Trump will still be our president. Trust his plan. He plays 4D chess while they play checkers.”

Eventually, uncertainty and disillusionment followed, before delusion once again set in.

Trump’s Jan. 7 concession that he would not serve a second term, prompted O’Brien to wonder in a conversation with one of her Facebook correspondents whether she might be arrested for her involvement in the riot. But when asked by that user whether Trump just actually conceded, O’Brien remained confident.

“No. False flag,” she responded. “He’s in Texas. Green Screen. He didn’t just concede. … Never said Bidens name. Don’t panic.”

She signed off the conversation with optimism that “everything is happening according to Q plan.”

O’Brien now faces charges of entering a restricted area, disruption of Congress, and disorderly conduct that could send her to prison for more than a year. She has been released on $250,000 bail, pending the resolution of her case in federal court in Washington.

Neither she nor her attorney, Greg Hunter, immediately returned calls for comment Friday.

Her Facebook account now appears to have been deleted.

Read the complaint: