A member of the Proud Boys extremist group who disappeared days before he was supposed to be sentenced for his role in the U.S. Capitol riot was found unconscious by federal agents after he tried to “covertly return” to his home, the FBI said on Friday.
Christopher Worrell, of Naples, Florida, was taken to a hospital where he remained on Friday, according to the FBI's Tampa office. The FBI did not provide further details about his condition.
Authorities had been searching for weeks for Worrell, who had been on house arrest when he went missing last month ahead of his sentencing in Washington. Prosecutors had been seeking 14 years in prison for Worrell on convictions for assault, obstruction of Congress and other offenses.
The FBI said that agents quickly surrounded and entered Worrell's home on Thursday after he returned, found the man unconscious and “immediately provided medical attention.” Authorities say agents found night-vision goggles, $4,000 in cash, and survivalist gear in his home.
Worrell's attorney, William Shipley, didn't immediately return a phone message on Friday.
The man was released from jail in Washington in November 2021, less than a month after a judge substantiated his civil-rights complaints about his treatment in the jail. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth found Worrell’s medical care for a broken hand had been delayed, and held D.C. jail officials in contempt of court.
Worrell, 52, was convicted after a bench trial in May of assaulting officers with pepper spray gel as the mob of Donald Trump supporters attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Authorities say Worrell, dressed in tactical vest, bragged that he “deployed a whole can” and shouted insults at officers, calling them “commies” and “scum.”
Prosecutors say Worrell then lied on the witness stand at trial, claiming that he was actually spraying other rioters. The judge called that claim “preposterous," prosecutors said in court papers.
Worrell's lawyer wrote in court papers that his client brought the spray gel and tactical vest to Washington for defensive purposes because of previous violence between Proud Boys and counter-protesters. His lawyer wrote that the chaotic scene at the Capitol “could have contributed to misperceptions creating inaccuracies" in Worrell's testimony at trial.
More than three dozen people charged in the Capitol attack have been identified by federal authorities as leaders, members or associates of the Proud Boys, whose members describe it as a politically incorrect men’s club for “Western chauvinists.”
Former Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio was sentenced earlier this month to 22 years in prison — the longest sentence that has been handed down in the Jan. 6 attack. Tarrio and three Proud Boys associates were convicted of seditious conspiracy and other crimes for what prosecutors said was a plot to stop the transfer of power from Trump to Democrat Joe Biden.
More than 1,100 people have been charged with federal crimes in the Jan. 6 riot. More than 650 have been sentenced, with approximately two-thirds receiving time behind bars, according to an Associated Press review of court records.