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A pair of rare Nike sneakers may be the key to catching a Washington riot suspect

A pedestrian walks past a sign at the bus stop from the FBI seeking information on supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump who stormed the U.S. Capitol
Reuters/Joshua Roberts
Not everyone makes the job of being identified quite so easy.
By Marc Bain
Published Last updated

US federal authorities are seeking help identifying a suspect in connection with pipe bombs found at the Republican and Democratic national committees on Jan. 6, the day of the violent storming of the Capitol building by supporters of president Donald Trump. Photos of the individual don’t leave much to go on. His face—presuming it’s a man—is covered by a mask, and the hood of his sweatshirt obscures the rest of his head. His clothes are plain and don’t offer clear identifying details.

So the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is asking if anyone recognizes the more discernible aspects of his outfit, his backpack and sneakers. Amateur sleuths online wasted no time in pinpointing the shoes as the Nike Air Max Speed Turf. If they’re correct, the shoes aren’t very common, which could help the FBI narrow the pool of suspects.

Sleuths online have identified them as the Nike Air Max Speed Turf.

Sneaker fans may know the Air Max Speed Turf as a style from the mid-1990s. Nike reintroduced them in 2012 and released more versions in 2018, including two color combinations that might be the shoes seen on the suspect. Unlike widely distributed styles, such as Nike’s popular Air Force 1, there aren’t millions of pairs on streets around the US, and while they are available on resale sites such as eBay and StockX, they aren’t traded with the same fervor as sought-after styles such as Air Jordans. That means a limited number of people probably own a pair, and the distinctive look makes them relatively easy to spot.

It isn’t the best lead the FBI could have hoped for, but federal authorities so far have few clues as to the suspect’s identity, according to the Associated Press. They are also concerned about the potential for more threats involving explosives or armed violence as the inauguration approaches and Trump leaves office.

The FBI has enlisted help from the public as it tries to identify all the individuals accused of illegally entering the Capitol, assaulting police, and having items such as homemade bombs during the Jan. 6 riot. Many should prove easier to catch since their faces were caught clearly on camera, and a number have already been arrested.

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