By Tom Baxter

According to the criminal complaint filed last week against Kevin Douglas Creek of Alpharetta, when he was asked in an FBI interview if he regretted what he did at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, he replied, “50/50.”

It’s easy to see the downside of that see-saw of regret. Creek faces a fistful of federal charges, including obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder and physical violence on Capitol grounds, which could land him in prison for years. The roofing and restoration business he started in in 2015 after working for other roofers for years, is probably down the drain. Creek is one of a dozen Georgians arrested after the Jan. 6, and most of those charged before him are awaiting trial in jail. A federal magistrate denied bail for Creek in a hearing Monday. Another Alpharetta resident, Christopher Stanton Georgia, arrested on a far less serious charge than Creek faces, killed himself shortly after his arrest.

One side of America is hungry to hold accountable those who perpetrated the assault on the Capitol. The failure of the effort in the U.S. Senate to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot will only whet their appetite to punish even the little fish, like Creek.

To the other side, people like Creek are an embarrassment, a refutation of the argument that this was a mostly peaceful demonstration, or that the trouble was stirred up by left-wing provocateurs. The photographs of him kicking and striking Capitol police don’t look peaceful, and he doesn’t look like he’s with Antifa.

Probably what Creek meant by “50/50” was that he still believed what Donald Trump said, that Joe Biden’s election wasn’t legitimate and the country was endangered. But many of those who have been arrested have been more fulsome in their regrets.

“Not one patriot is standing up for me,” Jenna Ryan, a Texas realtor, said after her arrest. “I’m a complete villain. I was down there based on what my president said: ‘Stop the steal.’ Now I see that it was all over nothing. He was just having us down there for an ego boost.”

A total of 521 people have been arrested so far in connection with the riot, and more arrests are expected. Creek’s case is an example of the methodical way the investigation is proceeding.

The FBI has had him on its radar since Creek went to Northside Hospital Forsyth in Cumming a few days after the riot, complaining that he was still suffering from being tear-gassed during the riot. Like so many of the participants in the immediate aftermath of the riot, he was quite talkative about what he’d done, both at the hospital and in his subsequent interview with the FBI.

The blogger Marcy Wheeler, who writes about national security issues, commented last week that Creek’s case was “a lesson in all the ways that insurrectionists, or any other travelers, leave a path of metadata that can be tracked later.”

The FBI appears not to have followed up on the tip about Creek’s hospital visit until he had been identified as one of those who fought with police on the West Terrace of the Capitol, possibly with the use of facial recognition software. From then until his arrest, it tied him to the license plate on his Ford F-150 truck from a surveillance photo taken before Jan. 6 at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, documented the truck leaving and re-entering Georgia with the Leonardo Automatic Plate Reader, tracked Creek’ss credit card purchases as he drove through the Carolinas and Virginia, and the subway tickets he bought to get from Arlington to D.C. on the day of the riot.

Similar, thorough cases are being amassed against hundreds of defendants, leading probably to the most serious cases being made against the leaders of the groups which played the biggest role in planning and coordinating the insurrection. But many of the little fish have already had months of jail time, and more are likely to be caught in the widening net. The former president, meanwhile, is playing golf at his Florida resort.

Which brings us, briefly, to Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and her investigation into Trump’s telephone attempt to pressure Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger into overturning the election result in Georgia. She said back in March she was in “no rush” to conclude the investigation, and she sure hasn’t been.
You wonder, though, what if anything her investigative team has been up to.

Tom Baxter has written about politics and the South for more than four decades. He was national editor and chief political correspondent at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and later edited The Southern...

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