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Reports identify Olympic gold-medal winning swimmer Klete Keller among Capitol rioters

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Pro-Trump protests turned into a violent riot as they storm US Capitol

President Trump spoke to the crowd and urged them to go to the building. Then the crowd turned violent as rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

USA TODAY

Olympic gold medalist swimmer Klete Keller may have joined the riot inside the U.S. Capitol last week, according to multiple media reports that identify him based on photos and videos taken that day.

Keller, 38, is a three-time Olympic swimmer, who earned five medals overall, including gold medals in the 2004 and 2008 Summer Games for Team USA. 

Keller could not be reached for comment on phone numbers listed for him, and a message left at his work number went unreturned.

He was, until Tuesday, listed as a real estate agent with Hoff & Leigh in Colorado. Hoff & Leigh issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon saying Keller, an independent contractor, had resigned. 

While the firm did not confirm Keller was at the riot, it said: “Hoff & Leigh supports the right of free speech and lawful protest but we cannot condone actions that violate the rule of law.” 

Keller’s biographical information was removed from the company’s website on Tuesday morning.

Swimswam, a website about competitive swimming, first reported that Keller may have been among the crowd, basing the claim on “at least a dozen people” who had reviewed images and video from the raid. Swimming World magazine published a similar report on its site, based on anonymous sources.

The New York Times said Keller was in the crowd at the Capitol, according to “former teammates and coaches” who identified him in photos.

Brent Rutemiller, chief executive of the International Swimming Hall of Fame and publisher of Swimming World, told The Arizona Republic that photos and images on social media of Keller inside the Capitol during the Jan. 6 mob surge were accurate depictions of the Olympic champion who trained at Phoenix Swim Club with other Olympic champions.

“That is Klete,” Rutemiller said in an email. “I have confirmed.” He did not elaborate on why he was certain of Keller’s identity.

Rutemiller, also publisher of Swimming World Magazine, said he recognized the USA Team jacket that the person in the images was wearing. 

But USA Swimming, the governing body of the Olympic sport in the U.S., said it was not aware whether Keller was at the Capitol and “cannot confirm its accuracy.”

“We respect private individuals’ and groups’ rights to peacefully protest but in no way condone the actions taken by those at the Capitol last week,” Isabelle McLemore, managing director of communications for USA Swimming, said Monday in an email.

RAPINOE: Reacts to photo of U.S. Capitol rioter wearing USWNT sweatshirt

Keller’s most famous swim came when he held off Australian star Ian Thorpe in the anchor leg of the 4×200 meter-freestyle relay in the 2004 Athens Games to win the race by a mere 0.13 seconds.

Keller, who has an Arizona flag tattooed on his right biceps, won back-to-back bronze medals in the 400 freestyle at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and 2004 Games, including setting the American record (3:44.11) in Athens.

He also won a silver in the 4x200m freestyle relay in Sydney and gold in the same relay at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Town Hall reporter Julio Rosas is credited with taking photos and videos on Wednesday inside the Capitol that included Keller and were posted on social media sites like Twitter.

Hundreds of individuals, including many wearing pro-Donald Trump clothing, overwhelmed security at the Capitol on the afternoon of Jan. 6, following a pro-Trump rally.

The rioters looted congressional offices and lawmakers were whisked away to safety, interrupting the work of both chambers to vote to certify the election defeat of Trump.

The FBI has been asking the public for assistance to locate individuals who were inside the Capitol.

Federal authorities continue to round up and arrest people charged in the deadly insurrection, and said on Tuesday that some individuals involved in the riot could be charged with misdemeanor trespassing and then face more serious felony charges.

On Saturday, Phoenix resident Jake Angeli, who made national news with pictures of him inside the Capitol donning an animal fur hat topped with horns, surrendered himself to federal authorities. 

Angeli had been on a list of people sought by Washington, D.C., police. Aware authorities were looking for him, Angeli called the FBI earlier in the week to identify himself as the man photographed in the Capitol rotunda and, briefly, on the dais of the U.S. Senate. He remained in custody

Have a tip on investigative stories? Reach the reporter at [email protected] or Twitter @charrisazrep

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