As the U.S. continues to grapple with the fallout from the rioting at the Capitol on January 6, Wisconsin resident and QAnon believer Ian Alan Olson has been arrested after opening fire with an AR-15-style paintball gun at an Army Reserve base in Pewaukee, Wisconsin, as summarized by a new report from the Daily Beast. Olson had previously traveled to Washington, D.C., where he told Capitol Police officers that he was “maybe going to do something crazy stupid” the following day and told a member of the National Guard that he was “willing to die” as part of an effort to “test the National Guard… to see if they were loyal to the people or to the President.”
After Olson’s troubling comments to authorities in D.C., Capitol Police took him into custody and placed him in a local psychiatric hospital, where he was diagnosed with a “brief psychotic disorder.” His plot in D.C. involved an apparently planned violent attack on the National Guard, and he apparently hoped to put troops in a situation where they’d have to decide whether or not to shoot him. Olson believed that if he was shot, then he would know that the National Guard was loyal to President Joe Biden, but if he was left alone, then he’d conclude that the Guard was loyal to the people of the country. As Olson put it, “things can only be resolved by the barrel end of a gun.”
QAnon is a pro-Trump conspiracy theory that states that, while in office, Donald Trump fought a secret group of cannibals and Satan-worshipers who are embedded within top rungs of the Democratic Party and mainstream media. (QAnon believers have floated various explanations for the fact that Trump is no longer in office.) When confronted with QAnon, Trump did not denounce the extremism — instead, he glibly insisted at a press conference in August of last year that he was, in fact, “saving the world from a radical-left philosophy that will destroy this country,” adding that “when this country is gone, the rest of the world would follow.” His comments do not, of course, reflect reality.
In Wisconsin, Olson apparently shouted “this is for America” before opening fire. One of the reservists who Olson targeted tackled him before police arrived. Authorities found a gas mask, throwing knives, a police scanner, a taser, a manifesto, and more inside Olson’s car, and at his home, authorities discovered a (real) AR-15 rifle and seven magazines that were loaded with armor-piercing ammo.
Olson was initially booked on state charges including terrorist threats, attempted battery, and disorderly conduct, and after an initial release on March 16, he was re-arrested by the FBI on federal charges including assault on United States servicemen on account of service and assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers or employees.