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FBI: Tipster Dimes Out Tambourine-Shaking Former NYPD Spokeswoman In Capitol Riot

The FBI says the woman in the photos with the red hat, backpack, cellphone and tambourine is former NYPD spokeswoman Sara Carpenter of Queens.
The FBI says the woman in the photos with the red hat, backpack, cellphone and tambourine is former NYPD spokeswoman Sara Carpenter of Queens. Photo Credit: FBI

A tambourine-shaking, arms-raising, former NYPD spokeswoman became the latest person charged criminally in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, thanks to yet another anonymous tipster, according to the FBI.

Sara Carpenter, 51, who left the force in 2004, surrendered to the FBI in Queens early Tuesday, federal authorities said.

“Any involvement in the Jan. 6 [riot] is serious conduct,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Josh Hafetz told a judge in Brooklyn during a video-conferenced detention hearing that afternoon.

According to an anonymous tipster, Carpenter told a relative that she’d been tear-gassed after entering the Capitol building, the FBI said. Agents were also reportedly given her address in the Richmond Hill section of Queens.

Carpenter voluntarily surrendered, then cooperated with agents once she knew she was caught, Hafetz said.

According to a complaint on file in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, she told them she went to Washington D.C. to attend a rally by then-President Trump over his claims of fraud in last November's presidential election.

Carpenter said she “heard [his] words on the jumbo televisions and speakers instructing people to rally back, not leave, and march to the Capitol.”

Then-Vice President Mike Pence was presiding over a joint session of Congress that was called at the Capitol to certify the election results in favor of Trump’s successor, Joe Biden.

“Carpenter stated that at approximately 1 p.m., she began to walk with a large group of people to the Capitol,” the complaint says. “Carpenter stated that she entered the Rotunda of the Capitol, where she observed other individuals walking around and leaving with items.

“Carpenter told FBI agents that she observed police yelling for individuals to get out, then pushing and shoving the crowd. Carpenter stated she was trampled and pepper sprayed as she exited the Capitol building.”

Surveillance cameras captured images of her entering the Rotunda with the crowd while wearing a red hat, green coat and black boots. She also wore a backpack, like many others there.

The video shows Carpenter shaking the tambourine and raising her hands in the air before leaving, the FBI said.

Carpenter told the FBI she was pepper-sprayed and trampled on her way out, according to the complaint.

The incident led to five deaths, including that of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. Two other police officers who defended the Capitol that day later killed themselves.

FBI agents armed with a warrant said they found the clothing and backpack seen in the video when they searched Carpenter’s home earlier this month. In the pocket of the green coat was a printed Google map of downtown D.C., the complaint says.

Carpenter also gave the FBI video she’d shot on her phone from inside the building – and “voluntarily provided the tambourine,” it says.

Carpenter retired from the New York Police Department in 2004 with nearly 10 years of service, including time spent as an NYPD spokeswoman.

The circumstances under which she left, given that she was in her mid-30s at the time, weren't clear on Tuesday.

A U.S. magistrate judge in Brooklyn released her on bond via teleconference Tuesday afternoon but ordered Carpenter to surrender her passport. The judge also limited Carpenter's travel to New York City and Long Island, unless she has to return to Washington for court appearances or meetings with her attorney.

Her next court appearance is scheduled this coming Monday via teleconference with a U.S. District Court judge in Washington, D.C.

Carpenter faces misdemeanor charges of “knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds,” as well as violent entry and disorderly conduct.

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