They looked like they were flying to Las Vegas for the weekend. A group of friends, all wearing sunglasses, posed for a photo in front of a private plane, its landing gear on the centerline, waiting for the passengers to board.  They were all smiles before they departed from a Denton airport. But they didn’t go to Vegas. Instead, the group of North Texas realtors landed in Washington, D.C., where a distorted frenzy awaited.

One of the passengers aboard the plane was Frisco realtor Jenna Ryan, a self-proclaimed life coach and radio host. In the days leading up to the deadly attack on Jan. 6, Ryan took to her social media accounts, telling followers that she was going to Washington to support President Donald Trump. When she arrived, she started posting live videos as she walked through Capitol Hill, sharing her perspective on the outcome of the recent presidential election. Ryan told her viewers on Facebook Live that she and others were in town to save the nation, to “stop the steal.”

“They are taking our country from us,” Ryan said in one of the videos. “This is a prelude to the war that’s about to happen.”

On Friday, however, Ryan faces a criminal complaint for “knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority” and “disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds,” according to a Jan. 15 Dallas Morning News report. Word spread shortly thereafter on Twitter.

Ryan was arrested by federal agents Friday afternoon, a spokesperson with the FBI field office in Dallas confirmed to Local Profile. 

The spokesperson for the U.S. District Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District said they had nothing else to add at this point. It is unclear if she has been arrested yet. Jessica Pond, Collin County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, said Ryan isn’t currently in jail there.

Ryan has denied wrongdoing.

Washington, usa – 06 january 2021. Protestors descend upon capitol hill to contest the certification of the presidential election | valerio pucci / shutterstock. Com

The Storm

Hundreds of pro-Trump people broke into the Capitol the same day Ryan posted her videos. The Trump supporters entered both the House and Senate chambers, chased down journalists and swarmed representatives’ officers. Five people were killed, including an officer with the U.S. Capitol Police, who was crushed to death by the mob. Investigators say they are treating his death as a murder.

On Twitter, Ryan described her experience Wednesday as “one of the best days of my life.” 

The high of storming the Capitol, the euphoria of feeling like a “patriot,” quickly turned into a horrifying reality as many people began labeling the rioters as domestic terrorists for attempting to thwart the constitutional process and cause harm to elected officials. They started losing their jobs and getting arrested. So far, nearly 100 people have been arrested or charged in connection to the siege, including retired Lt. Col. Larry Rendall Brock Jr. from Grapevine.

Asked about Ryan’s status with the Texas Association of Realtors, the organization did not directly address Ryan’s participation in the attacks but instead pointed out in a statement: “Actions of any members who participated in this week’s demonstrations do not reflect the thought and opinions of our association.

The Hunt

It appeared Ryan was back in North Texas as early as Friday. On her Facebook page, she posted that a television news crew had just left her house after finishing an interview with her. She declined to comment when Local Profile contacted her.

On Saturday, acting U.S. attorney general for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin said in an interview “hundreds” more people could soon face charges. He said justice department staffers were working around the clock to identify people who were present at the attack. He also pointed out that federal investigators are combing through social media posts from accounts appearing to show people present at the ransacking. They are archiving these posts, too. 

Steven D’antuono, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, told Politico shortly after the riot, “Just because you’ve left the D.C. region, you can still expect a knock at the door, if we find out you were part of the criminal activity at the Capitol. We are sparing no expense or personnel or effort to root those perpetrators out and find them.”

That same day, on Facebook, Ryan posted that she traveled to D.C. to attend a pro-Trump, stop-the-steal march. But she said she did not know the march would turn violent. “I do not condone the violence that occurred on January 6, 2020 and I am truly heartbroken for the people who have lost their lives. Hatred and violence toward each other are not going to solve our country’s issues.

“As a nation, we need to come together Republican, Democrat and Independent and have an open and honest discussion about the issues in our country and resolve our issues in peace.”

A week later, the Department of Justice filed the criminal complaint against her.

FBI special agent Amie C. Stemen discussed several reasons behind Ryan’s arrest in a statement to the Morning News. He mentioned the photos and videos Ryan shared on social media. In particular, he indicated one where, while standing in front of a bathroom mirror, she tells her followers, “We’re gonna go down and storm the Capitol.”

According to the Morning News Jan. 15 report, Stemen claimed that Ryan had also live-streamed a 21-minute Facebook Live video. In this video, she and a group walk through Capitol doors while chanting “USA, USA.”

Editor’s note: Story has been updated to show that FBI arrested Ryan on Friday afternoon.

Dalton LaFerney

Dalton LaFerney is a freelance journalist based in the Dallas area. His work has appeared in the Dallas Morning News, Dallas Observer, Denton Record-Chronicle, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, and the Las Vegas...