Princeton student charged with joining mob’s Capitol attack

A Princeton University student was arrested Tuesday on charges that he joined other rioters in pushing against police officers guarding an entrance to the U.S. Capitol during a mob’s attack, court records show.

Larry Fife Giberson, 21, of Manahawkin, New Jersey, was at the front line of the mob’s fight against police in a tunnel when one of the officers was briefly crushed between rioters and tunnel doors, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit. Giberson waved other rioters into the tunnel before joining a second round of “heave ho” pushing against police, the agent said.

Giberson tried in vain to start a chant of “Drag them out!” and then cheered on rioters using weapons and pepper spray against police in the tunnel, according to the FBI. Giberson remained in that area for roughly an hour on Jan. 6, 2021, the affidavit says.

Capitol Riot Princton Student
This image of Larry Fife Giberson, circled in annotation by the Justice Department in the Statement of Facts supporting the arrest Giberson, shows him outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan 6. 2021.  / AP

Giberson was arrested in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, on charges including a felony count of civil disorder, according to a court filing. He faces four other counts including engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds.

A federal magistrate judge ordered Giberson’s release from custody after his initial court appearance in Washington on Tuesday.

Charles Burnham, an attorney for Giberson, declined to comment on the charges.

The Daily Princetonian reported that Giberson is a senior majoring in politics, and the school’s James Madison Program lists him among its 2022-23 undergraduate fellows.   

University spokesman Michael Hotchkiss said in an email Tuesday that Giberson is currently enrolled at Princeton as an undergraduate.

“We don’t have anything to add beyond that,” Hotchkiss wrote.

Giberson was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and a Trump flag around his neck when he joined the mob’s assault on police officers in a tunnel on the Capitol’s Lower West Terrance, the affidavit says.

The FBI posted images of Giberson on social media to seek the public’s help in identifying him. Online sleuths also posted mages of Giberson online using the “#DragThemOut” hashtag moniker.

Investigators matched photos of Giberson from the Capitol to several images found on Instagram and Princeton University’s website, the FBI agent said. The FBI interviewed Giberson at the Princeton Police Department in the presence of an attorney before his arrest.

The FBI agent’s affidavit doesn’t say whether Giberson attended the “Stop the Steal” rally where then-President Donald Trump addressed a crowd of supporters on Jan. 6.

Giberson was at the front line of the tunnel fight with the police officers, according to court documents. Department of Justice

Earlier this month, the Justice Department reached a milestone in its prosecution of the U.S. Capitol attack, confirming it has arrested at least 1,000 people in connection with the riot that disrupted the joint session of Congress for certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

Slightly more than half of the men and women charged with federal crimes in the Jan. 6 attack have entered guilty pleas in their cases. But even as cases close, new defendants and charges continue to surface, which could stretch the overall prosecution well into 2024, if not beyond.

The Justice Department has secured a nearly unblemished record in Capitol riot trials over the first two years of prosecutions. Only one defendant, a New Mexico man who requested a bench trial — with no jury and a verdict rendered by a judge — was fully acquitted. The defendant, Matthew Martin, argued he was unaware he was actually in a restricted space on Jan. 6.

Scott MacFarlane contributed to this report.