A former Marine gunnery sergeant recorded himself on Facebook Live inside the U.S. Capitol after rioters breached the building on Jan. 6.
“You cannot stop millions of people, you cannot stop it. You can’t. It’s impossible,” said Nicholes Lentz in a video posted to Facebook from inside the Capitol building, The Miami Herald first reported, noting Lentz had also been a police officer in North Miami Beach up until August 2020.
“America has a voice, we give them the power, we give the power, the people give the power. And we’re here to take it back,” said Lentz, who was among hundreds of pro-Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol earlier this month in an effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
In the video, the 41-year-old wore a red ball cap and motorcycle vest with patches for the 1st Marine Division and 0311 (signifying a military occupational specialty of infantry rifleman). He claimed there had been no violence and said he was doing his best to protect police officers, “but this is overwhelming for them. There’s no way they can hold us back.”
Indeed, police officers were overwhelmed throughout the Capitol after being attacked with chemical irritants, metal pipes, bats, and other weapons during an hours-long riot. Nearly 60 officers were injured. Five people died, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher.
“I’ve talked to officers who have done two tours in Iraq, who said this was scarier to them than their time in combat,” said acting D.C. police chief Robert J. Contee III, describing harrowing scenes, many captured on video, of officers being dragged into the crowd and beaten. Others were crushed in narrow entryways as demonstrators heaved their way inside.
Lentz could not be reached for comment.
Lentz served as an infantry rifleman and unit leader on active duty in the Marine Corps from June 1999 to July 2011 and later served in the reserves from Nov. 2011 to Sept. 2013, according to military records. He deployed six times, including to Afghanistan in 2004 and 2013, and was qualified as a drill instructor and combat water survival instructor.
After the Marine Corps, Lentz joined the Fort Pierce Police Department in 2014 before moving to the North Miami Beach Police Department in 2016, where he made national news for rescuing a mother and baby from floodwaters the following year. The city said in a statement that Lentz had resigned his position last year and “no longer has any affiliation or association with the City of North Miami Beach.”
Lentz joins a growing list of veterans identified as taking part in the Capitol riots, which temporarily derailed certification of the 2020 presidential election.
Air Force veteran Ashli Babbit was shot and killed by Capitol Police while trying to enter the Speaker’s Lobby through a broken window that would have given her and others access to the House chamber, and retired Air Force Lt. Col. Larry Rendell Brock was arrested and charged after being seen inside the Senate chamber holding plastic restraints that prosecutors say would have been used to take hostages.
Other veterans involved in the insurrection include Jacob Chansley, a Navy veteran dubbed ‘the QAnon shaman,’ Jacob Fracker, a Virginia National Guard infantryman, Thomas Robertson, an Army veteran, and Adam Newbold, a retired Navy SEAL who was employed by the Navy as a contractor helping to mentor SEAL candidates at the time.