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Man Who Appeared on Ellen After Rescuing Dogs in Hurricane Arrested for Alleged Role in Capitol Riot

Ashley Boucher
·3-min read

courtesy Ryan Nichols

A man who once appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show after rescuing several dogs in the aftermath of a hurricane has been arrested for participating in the violent riots at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 that left five people dead.

Ryan Nichols, 30 was arrested on January 18 and booked into the Smith County Jail, online records show.

On Friday, he was charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and conspiracy and unlawful entry with a dangerous weapon, news station KLTV reported. According to the outlet, he was also charged with assault on a federal officer, using a deadly or dangerous weapon as well as aiding and abetting.

Nichols went viral in 2018 when he rescued dogs during Hurricane Florence in North Carolina. He was seen in a video letting six dogs out of a flooded kennel, and that footage was shared by several news outlets.

His rescue efforts were later celebrated by DeGeneres — a noted animal lover — on her talk show.

youtube Ryan Nichols on The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Nichols had explained that his own home was impacted when Hurricane Harvey hit Texas the previous year, inspiring him to help hurricane victims whenever he had the chance.

Nichols' friend, Alex Kirk Harkrider, 33, was also arrested on January 18 and was booked into the Gregg County Jail, according to online records. Harkrider was charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, conspiracy and unlawful entry with a dangerous weapon, as well as aiding and abetting, KLTV reported.

RELATED: Officials Expect 'Hundreds' of U.S. Capitol Charges Coming — Including 'Sedition and Conspiracy' Charges

Social media posts of Nichols and Harkrider at the riots were turned over to the FBI by two witnesses, according to a criminal complaint obtained by NBC News. The Smith County Sheriff's office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment Friday.

The posts, which appear to have been deleted from Nichols' Facebook, included videos of the two men amidst the mob outside the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. One post was reportedly captioned, "We ain't done yet! We just got started!" while another said "We're in."

youtube Ryan Nicholson The Ellen DeGeneres Show

One post captured by NBC News featured a selfie of Nichols and Harkrider amid the mob, with a caption that said "Patriots stood their ground today!"

"We aren't done yet, either!" the caption continued. "You want to steal our election, and not hear us in court? Good! Now you'll hear our civil unrest!"

According to NBC News, other videos showed the men on the ledge of a Capitol window with Nichols shouting into a bullhorn saying things like "This is not a peaceful protest" and encouraging people to get their weapons.

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Another video showed Nichols spraying pepper spray, NBC reported the complaint said.

"We're in. 2 people killed already," Harkrider reportedly said on Snapchat, according to NBC News. "We need all the patriots of this country to rally the f--- up and fight for our freedom or it's gone forever. Give us liberty, or give us death. We won't stand for it."

RELATED: Photos of the Aftermath of the Pro-Trump Riots at the U.S. Capitol

According to KLTV's report, prosecutors say that Nichols was using a crowbar as a weapon during the riots, while Harkrider was using a hatchet.

Nichols' attorney Buck Files and Harkrider's attorney Greg Waldron could not be reached by PEOPLE Friday.

Both lawyers argued Friday that there was no evidence to prove their clients intended to harm police officers or that they had destroyed property, according to KLTV.