As insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol this week, a few figures stood out. One man, clad in a combat helmet, body armor, and other tactical gear, was among the group that made it to the inner reaches of the building. Carrying zip-tie handcuffs, he was captured in photographs and videos on the Senate floor and with a group that descended on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office suite. In a video shot by ITV News, he is seen standing against a wall adjacent to Pelosi’s office, his face covered by a bandana. At another point, he appears to exit the suite, face exposed, pushing his way through the crowds of demonstrators.
Brock’s family members and his friend said that his service in the Air Force was central to his identity. Several of Brock’s e-mail addresses and social-media accounts featured his call sign and military nickname, Torch. One family member said that Brock derived “this weird sense of power” from his time as a military pilot, along with a Manichean world view. “He used to tell me that I only saw the world in shades of gray, and that the world was black and white,” the other family member said. “He doesn’t understand the fallout and the people he’s hurting. And I can’t imagine what he was doing there with zip ties, or what he thought he was going to accomplish.”
Leake said that he believed the same intense commitment that had made Brock an effective fighter pilot had led him to this week’s events in the Capitol. “Torch got all in on Trump,” Leake said. “He went all in on the alternative-news-source world. He actually believes liberals and Democrats are a threat to the country. You can see how the logical conclusion to that is, We’ve gotta take over.”An Air Force Combat Veteran Breached the Senate and Descended on Nancy Pelosi’s Office Suite | The New Yorker