“INFAMY IS JUST AS GOOD AS FAME,” she wrote above a mirror photo posted to Instagram either the day of the Capitol riot or the day after, according to the affidavit. “EITHER WAY I END UP MORE KNOWN. XOXO”
Now Courtright faces federal charges, the latest suspect in the Jan. 6 riots who was tracked down in large part because of extensive digital trails — including proud and defiant posts from alleged rioters on social media.
The affidavit outlines offenses including theft of a “Members Only” sign; knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds, and engaging in disorderly conduct in the Capitol building or its grounds with the intent of disrupting a session of Congress.
The Washington Post was unable to reach Courtright, who authorities say is a senior at the University of Kentucky, and it was not immediately clear whether she has a lawyer. A reporter could not clearly hear a man who answered at a phone number listed for her address, and the line soon went dead.
An FBI agent writes in the affidavit that law enforcement could not directly review Courtright’s social media, because both her apparent Twitter and Instagram accounts have been deleted. But Courtright’s alleged posts were quickly preserved as a backlash built online. By 7 p.m. the day of the riots, a dozen tweets were “calling out” Courtright, some of them tagging the FBI, according to the University of Kentucky’s student newspaper, the Kentucky Kernel.
One person messaged Courtright on Instagram after watching a video of her, according to the FBI: “You were there???”
“Yes it wasn’t violent like the news said I took pictures all in the building, I never saw the violence I guess I was lucky,” she replied, according to the screenshots included in the affidavit. “The cops like let us walk in.”
“Dude,” the other person wrote back, “that’s embarrassing.”
Aggrieved Trump supporters’ breach of the Capitol would send lawmakers into hiding, injure dozens of police officers and resulted in five deaths, including a member of the Capitol Police. The person confronting Courtright via private message on Instagram pointed out that a woman had died, apparently referring to Ashli Babbitt, shot by police as she tried to leap through a broken window.
“I’m sad she died?” Courtright replied.
Earlier, she wrote that she “walked into the chamber like the senate where desk are” and responded to the Instagram messager’s disapproval with, “it’s history idc” and “I thought it was cool.”
The Kentucky Kernel reports that Courtright posted her “INFAMY IS JUST AS GOOD” message after her posts started to draw criticism.
The FBI’s evidence goes beyond social media posts. The affidavit also cites a photograph that is believed to show Courtright in “a crowd that initially clashed with police in the halls of the Capitol.” The woman the FBI identifies as Courtright is mostly obscured but her “unique hat” was a tip-off, an agent says.
Surveillance footage also shows Courtright walking up steps near the Senate chamber clutching the “Members Only” sign, eventually taken away by an officer, the FBI says.
An FBI agent spoke with Courtright’s father over the phone several days after the riot, on Jan. 12, the affidavit states. Her father said Courtright was staying with him in West Virginia and said she would cooperate with law enforcement.
He “indicated that he did not feel comfortable allowing [Courtright] to give a statement unless she was notified she would not get in trouble for her actions,” the affidavit says, and that Courtright had gone to the District to be at “the party.”
Courtright attended President Trump’s speech and “made it to the Capitol” an hour after, the father reportedly told the FBI. She remembered being able to walk into the building, he told law enforcement.
“The father concluded by stating that if his daughter was charged with a crime, he would assist in ensuring she turned herself in to authorities,” the affidavit says.
A spokesman for the University of Kentucky, Jay Blanton, confirmed in an email that Courtright remains a student and said the school does not discuss “individual disciplinary issues,” as a petition to expel Courtright has surpassed 1,400 signatures.
“But, in general, we can tell you that the student code of conduct applies both on and off campus,” Blanton said. “If the university is made aware of a student taking actions in violation of local, state or federal laws, the student code of conduct applies in that context.”