Accused Jan. 6 shooter is domestic violence fugitive with lengthy criminal record: Feds


John Banuelos is accused of firing a gun during the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. (Photos from court documents)

John Banuelos is accused of firing a gun during the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. (Photos from court documents)

An Illinois man accused of firing a gun into the air during the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol will remain in custody pending trial after prosecutors detailed the ex-con and two-time domestic violence fugitive’s criminal history that included fatally stabbing someone in a case of self-defense.

John Banuelos, 39, faces felony charges of trespassing with a deadly or dangerous weapon, carrying and discharging a firearm and civil disorder. He also faces a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. At Banuelos’ detention hearing in Illinois on Wednesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Beth W. Jantz granted prosecutors’ request and ordered him detained until his first scheduled appearance before a federal judge in Washington, D.C., court filings show.

According to NBC News, Jantz called Banuelos’ actions reckless and serious. He reportedly has an appearance scheduled in Washington, D.C., on March 21.

“This conduct is mind-numbingly dangerous,” prosecutors wrote in their pretrial detention memo. “Any number of life-threatening events could have transpired, e.g., the threat of an active shooter at the Capitol on January 6 could have triggered a lethal response from law enforcement or a stampede of other rioters. Fortunately, none of these events came to pass, but the fact that no such harm ensued does nothing to mitigate the seriousness of Banuelos’s actions.”

As Law&Crime has previously reported, Banuelos was allegedly among thousands of Donald Trump supporters who attended the “Stop the Steal” rally that day. At one point, when facing off against a line of police, Banuelos allegedly held up his gloved hand to form the shape of a “finger gun” and simulated “firing” multiple times in the direction of officers.

At one point, he also allegedly lifted his jacked and flashed his gun. He then allegedly helped the crowd push against police lines, climbed the scaffolding of the inaugural stage, pulled out a pistol and fired two shots into the air. He then put the gun back into his waistband, climbed down the scaffolding, and rejoined the crowd below, court documents said.

He surfaced as a suspect in February 2021 after a witness called in a tip identifying him as the individual seen flashing the firearm. But he wasn’t immediately arrested.

In July 2021, Banuelos was investigated but not charged for the fatal stabbing of a 19-year-old man in Utah, court documents said.

The bloodshed stemmed from a dispute about money, Salt Lake City’s NBC affiliate KSL reported. Banuelos stabbed the man after the man hit him in the head with a skateboard, leaving Banuelos with a head wound, the station reported.

“All I know is I did it to defend my life, man,” the station reported, citing a transcript of the interview obtained through a public records request. “I have the right to defend my life, man, OK? They were trying to hurt me, man, for $150 that I did not take. They were accusing my wife and me and yelling and swearing and trying to hurt me, man.”

During further questioning about the stabbing, Banuelos allegedly told local police about going inside the Capitol on Jan. 6 and said he was the person seen in a video with a gun.

“Man, should I just tell the FBI to come get me or what …?” Banuelos asked detectives, according to KSL’s report about the transcript.

“Do you have a warrant?” one detective asked.

“Probably,” he said. “I was in the D.C. riots.”

“On Jan. 6?” the other detective asked. “Did you go inside the Capitol?”

“Yeah, I went inside, and I’m the one with the video with the gun right here,” Banuelos said, the station reported.

Prosecutors did not press charges against him in the stabbing, but he was arrested on a warrant for an assault in 2019 in Utah and ultimately sentenced to 180 days in jail for the offense, court documents said.

In March 2022, the FBI called Banuelos regarding the insurrection. They wanted to know more about his claims that he went into the Capitol, court documents said. He told agents he wouldn’t speak with them and denied going inside the building before hanging up, authorities allege.

He then called agents back and made “incoherent sentences,” saying people “were trying to trick him and were messing with his mind,” court documents said.

In January of this year, FBI agents interviewed Banuelos after he allegedly made threatening social media posts, including one in which he appears to be racking the slide of a semi-automatic pistol.

He allegedly said he did not make the posts, denied intending to threaten anyone and claimed “many” of his posts were done by artificial intelligence. Any weapons seen in the video posts, authorities said he told agents, were fake or made by artificial intelligence.

He was arrested in the Capitol breach case on March 8 at his mother’s home in Summitt, Illinois. During a search, agents found a BB gun starter pistol in a basement closet but not the weapon authorities believe he fired at the Capitol.

Prosecutors said he had been arrested 19 times. He has two open domestic assault cases, allegedly from August and September 2021. Officials said he is wanted out of Utah for both cases after he failed to appear in proceedings. Prosecutors noted the victim in both cases has also been arrested for domestic assault against Banuelos.

He has five convictions in Illinois and Utah dating back to 2003 for crimes including misdemeanor assault, misdemeanor resisting arrest, fleeing law enforcement and possession of marijuana, court documents said.

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *