Two Trump Supporters From Chicago Suburbs Arrested in D.C.

Supporters of President Donald Trump storm the U.S. Capitol
Supporters of President Donald Trump storm the steps of the West side of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press
Supporters of President Donald Trump storm the U.S. Capitol
Supporters of President Donald Trump storm the steps of the West side of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press

Two Trump Supporters From Chicago Suburbs Arrested in D.C.

The chief executive officer of a company in Schaumburg and a tattoo artist from Roselle were among supporters of President Donald Trump who got arrested after a violent mob stormed the Capitol in Washington, D.C.,this week.

The U.S. Capitol Police said Thursday they arrested Bradley Rukstales, who lives in Inverness, and charged him with unlawful entry.

Rukstales, 52, has been a campaign contributor to Trump and was the CEO and president of Cogensia, a marketing consulting firm based in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

A spokeswoman for Cogensia on Thursday said Rukstales was put on a leave of absence pending the company’s investigation of the matter.

“Brad was acting as an individual, not as CEO of Cogensia” when he was arrested, the spokeswoman told WBEZ. “We’re taking it very seriously.”

Rukstales issued a statement late Thursday evening, admitting he was among the mob, and said the arrest was his first.

“In a moment of extremely poor judgment following the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, I followed hundreds of others through an open set of doors to the Capitol building to see what was taking place inside,” he said in part. “My decision to enter the Capitol was wrong, and I am deeply regretful to have done so. Without qualification and as a peaceful and law-abiding citizen, I condemn the violence and destruction that took place in Washington.

“I offer my sincere apologies for my indiscretion, and I deeply regret that my actions have brought embarrassment to my family, colleagues, friends and fellow countrymen.

“It was the single worst personal decision of my life; I have no excuse for my actions and wish that I could take them back.”

Rukstales was among 14 people from around the country charged by the Capitol Police, which was was overwhelmed by the pro-Trump mob that stormed the chambers of Congress and forced the country’s legislative branch to temporarily shut down on Wednesday.

Another law-enforcement agency in Washington, the Metropolitan Police Department, said they arrested David Fitzgerald, 48, and charged him with “unlawful entry on federal ground” and breaking curfew near the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday evening.

Fitzgerald and others who were arrested along with him had been “given at least three warnings to vacate” at about 7:15 p.m. local time but did not comply, according to the police report obtained Thursday by WBEZ and D.C. court records.

The records show Fitzgerald pleaded not guilty Thursday and was ordered to stay out of Washington until his next court date, set for June.

Fitzgerald posted a video that was taken near the Capitol on his Facebook page at about 7 p.m. Wednesday , a few hours after the violent insurrection. The video showed Trump supporters yelling at police in body armor and an officer telling them, “There’s a curfew, you’re under arrest.”

Someone protested that the Trump backers “were trying to leave.” An officer replied, “It’s too late.”

In a series of comments under the video, Fitzgerald wrote, “I’m under arrest,” “Surrounded,” and “Tell my wife.”

Six hours earlier, he had written, “Unbelievable. F***ing [sic] God bless America.”

When someone told him about “hundreds of protesters getting inside the Capital [sic] Building,” Fitzgerald told him, “I’m here.”

Another commenter asked for more details on what was happening there, and Fitzgerald replied, “Chaos.”

They were the latest in a series of posts Fitzgerald uploaded to social media over the last few days documenting his road trip to Washington, a visit to the Lincoln Memorial and the pro-Trump demonstrations.

Two days ago, he wrote that the authorities were intending to deal more harshly with the pro-Trump activists than they had during last year’s civil-rights unrest: “DC mayor calls up National Guard for our arrival tomorrow. Funny. BLM had a free pass all summer. No problem.”

Fitzgerald is a self-employed tattoo artist, according to his social-media accounts and company filings with state officials.

He did not return messages but his wife said he had spent the night in jail in Washington.

Dan Mihalopoulos is an investigative reporter on WBEZ’s Government & Politics Team.