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Florida pastors arrested in connection with Capitol riots after congregant provided evidence to FBI

by Chantalle Edmunds
Photo Credit Youtube screenshot/ VOA - Banner image
Photo Credit Youtube screenshot/ VOA

A Florida pastor and his son are facing charges in connection with the January 6 Capitol riots.

James Varnell Cusick Jr., 72, and his son Casey Cusick, 35, both pastors at the Global Outreach Ministries church in Melbourne, Florida, face charges of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building; and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

David Lesperance, a 68-year-old congregant of their church, faces similar charges.

The FBI Tampa Division's Joint Terrorism Task Force conducted a voluntary interview with Lesperance following anonymous tips about his alleged involvement and the alleged involvement of the two pastors, during which Lesperance admitted that his pastor was also present at former President Donald Trump's speech and at the U.S. Capitol. Lesperance admitted that "they" entered the Capitol building, but refused to name his pastor, as reported by Newsweek. 

The FBI conducted a public records search which showed Cusick Jr. as the founder of a church in Melbourne. Instagram photos shared on the public church account showed photos of church members, including Cusick Jr. and Lesperance, according to charging documents.

Body-cam footage and CCTV images depicting the Cusicks and Lesperance inside the Capitol on January 6 have been presented as evidence. The FBI added that photos from Lesperance's iCloud account that matched surveillance footage taken inside the building have also been recovered.

Following their arrest, the three suspects made their initial appearance in front of a District Court judge, in Orlando, on Thursday afternoon.

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