A Florida pastor, his son and a churchgoer have been charged in connection with the riot at the U.S. Capitol after authorities received tips and saw the men on security footage inside the building on Jan. 6.
Seventy-two-year-old Pastor James Cusick of Global Outreach Ministries in Melbourne, Florida, and his son, Casey, who is also a leader at the church, were arrested on Thursday, according to the Department of Justice.
David Lesperance, the director of an air conditioning contracting business who authorities say is a congregant of the church, was also arrested.
All three men have been charged with knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building without lawful authority, disorderly or disruptive conduct and “violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol Grounds.”
The riot occurred on the day in which then-Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress were set to count the electoral votes in the 2020 presidential election.
While the men were charged with trespassing, numerous videos have shown that many protesters were allowed to enter the building, and once inside were permitted to remain there by Capitol police.
Investigators say that they received a telephonic tip that the 69-year-old Lesperance was inside the Capitol's rotunda on Jan. 6, according to a criminal complaint. The FBI interviewed another witness who confirmed the claim.
On Jan. 19, task force investigators in the Tampa Bay area conducted a voluntary interview with Lesperance at his Indian Harbour Beach home. During the discussion, Lesperance allegedly admitted he and his pastor were present at President Donald Trump’s speech near the White House earlier in the day and at the U.S. Capitol later.
Lesperance also told investigators that he saw law enforcement officers arriving and hitting their shields with their batons when he was in front of the Capitol. He also allegedly admitted that while he was heading to the Capitol door, he saw law enforcement officers deploy flashbang devices. Lesperance said that he took photos and videos on his cellphone while at the Capitol and later deleted the media files out of fear of negative repercussions, according to the Justice Department.
Authorities received a warrant to search Lesperance’s iCloud and found that the location history of his phone showed it was present at the Capitol on the afternoon of Jan. 6.
Although authorities say Lesperance refused to provide his pastor’s name, a public records search revealed that James Cusick is the pastor of a church about 7 miles from Lesperance’s home. Another charging document states that investigators had received a tip about James Cusick’s alleged presence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 as early as Jan. 22. A search on Instagram revealed a picture on the church’s Instagram page of church members, including the Cusicks and Lesperance.
Authorities also found photos of Lesperance with the Cusicks before and after the riot appearing to wear the same clothes they were wearing when spotted on Capitol surveillance footage. Additionally, police body camera footage shows the Cusicks inside the Capitol.
On March 26, the FBI received a tip suggesting that Casey Cusick, his father and another individual entered the Capitol on Jan. 6.
The church’s website reveals that James Cusick holds ministerial credentials with the Association of Faith Churches and Ministers and actively works with the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. He graduated from Rhema Bible Training College in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1979.
The pastor’s online profile page states that he has spent the past 20 years “traveling all over Europe helping Jews make Aliyah back to Israel.”
Meanwhile, Casey Cusick, the vice president of Global Outreach Ministries, graduated from Rhema Bible Training College in 2014 and spent three years in Israel.
According to Google Maps, the address listed for the Global Outreach Ministries is located in a residential neighborhood. It doesn't have the appearance of a big church but rather a home. The ministry's website states that Cusick teaches the "uncompromised truths of God's Word with passion and purpose at weekly Bible Studies."
The ministry had over 200 followers on its Facebook page, which was taken down on Friday.
The Christian Post reached out to Global Outreach Ministries for comment on the Cusicks’ arrest. A response is pending.
According to Florida Today, all three men made their initial appearance Thursday afternoon at the U.S. District Court in Orlando and were released on $25,000 bonds. The conditions of their release include submitting to DNA collection, surrendering passports, no possession of firearms and restricted travel.
The newspaper reports that Brevard County court records show that Casey Cusick has had past run-ins with the law, including an arrest in 2018 for disorderly conduct. The arrest report alleges that Cusick struck his wife and caused her to bleed, but adjudication was withheld.
On Thursday, the Department of Justice announced that it has arrested more than 500 people connected with the Capitol riot, including 100 charged with assaulting federal law enforcement officers. Over half of the people who entered the Capitol that day have faced misdemeanor trespassing charges.
While media reports have said that five people were killed during the Capitol riot, the lone person killed by lethal force on Jan. 6 was Ashli Babbit, an unarmed U.S. Air Force veteran who attempted to climb through a smashed door pane into the House chamber. She was shot in the neck by a plainclothes officer from inside the chamber.
Three others who reportedly died at the Capitol that day include a woman who sustained injuries after being trampled on by the crowd, an individual who suffered a heart attack, and another individual who had a stroke.
For months the media reported that Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick died as a result of injuries he suffered when responding to the riot, specifically alleging that he was hit in the head by a fire extinguisher, which was also cited by Democrats at former President Trump's second impeachment. Reports now say medical examiners "did not find signs that the officer sustained any blunt force trauma."
Sicknick, who died from a stroke on Jan. 7, reportedly told his family that he had been sprayed by an irritant, possibly bear spray. It's speculated that it might've contributed to his death, along with any other preexisting conditions.