News & Politics

Gallaudet Student Accused of Taking Part in Capitol Riot

The feds say Vitali GossJankowski used a Taser during the January 6 pro-Trump insurrection attempt.

Photograph by Evy Mages

Authorities arrested Vitali GossJankowski of Washington, DC, on Monday in connection with the pro-Trump riot at the US Capitol on January 6.

GossJankowski is a student at Gallaudet University, spokesperson Robert Weinstock tells Washingtonian. The university said before his arrest that it was conducting an internal investigation and cooperating with authorities. It “condemns violence and will not tolerate involvement by any student, employee, or vendor in violence,” the statement says, and “Anyone engaged in violence will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including expulsion or termination.”

According to an affidavit written by a DC police officer, GossJankowski turned himself in after an FBI “wanted” poster featured images from a YouTube video that shows a man in a blue jacket carrying what appears to be a Taser handed to him by someone else in the crowd, then “activating the Taser multiple times, as evidenced by light flashes emanating from the Taser’s tip; and pushing himself through the crowd of violent individuals towards the police line that was protecting the entrance to the U.S. Capitol building.”

GossJankowski (whose name can be found online at times with a space or a hyphen) told authorities he went to the Capitol “out of curiosity” and that he discarded the Taser, which he said he found on the ground, in a trash can outside the Capitol. He said he wasn’t able to get into the Capitol that day. The affidavit notes that GossJankowski turned up for his interview with police wearing the same blue jacket the Taser-wielding suspect wears in the video.

One DC police officer, Michael Fanone, said he was struck several times with a stun weapon during the siege. GossJankowski told authorities he recognized Fanone but didn’t use his Taser on him. He also said he was the person in the video. He’s charged with entering a restricted building while carrying a dangerous weapon, according to the US Department of Justice.

Correction: This post originally relied on a rendering of GossJankowski’s last name that Gallaudet says was incorrect.) 

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.