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Driving a golf cart around his small and immaculate desert ranch, Ray Epps appears a man in his element.
Cattle graze contentedly as he makes his rounds of the property he’s transformed into a thriving wedding venue business, focusing on the location’s rustic charm.
Because not only is Epps, 60, a genial host of rural weddings, he’s also the former president of the largest chapter of far-right anti-government militia group the Oath Keepers and was seen in video urging supporters to ‘go into the Capitol’ on the day of the deadly insurrection.
He was also spotted in footage at the first barrier to fall to rioters as it was breached at 12:50pm.
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DailyMail.com located former US Marine and Oath Keepers chapter president Ray Epps at his rural property in Queen Creek just outside Phoenix, Arizona
DailyMail.com can reveal Epps runs a wedding venue and hospitality business from his small ranch in Arizona where he lives with wife Robyn
Epps, 60, was identified from the FBI’s wanted suspects list in the January 6 Capitol insurrection after he was seen in videos encouraging protesters to storm the federal building
Footage shows Epps at one point, pointing behind him, adding ‘It’s that direction. Please spread the word’
Epps has come under scrutiny as the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Capitol insurrection that claimed the lives of five Americans approaches
And he was named Suspect 16 when the FBI published images in its Capitol Violence Most Wanted list of people to identify two days after the insurrection, which claimed five lives.
However, a dramatic twist has now seen him accused of an altogether different, an unproven, allegiance – that of FBI plant.
Suspicion has fallen on him from some right-wing quarters speculating a fringe theory that he was sent out to help incite the riot on behalf of the federal government.
Some on the far right hypothesize that the motive was to frame Trump supporters as domestic terrorists.
There is no evidence that Epps, who was a sergeant in the military, ever entered the building himself on that fateful day and he was never arrested in connection with the storming.
DailyMail.com located the veteran at his Rocking R Farms wedding and hospitality business, which he runs with wife Robyn, 63.
Epps was spotted by DailyMail.com riding around in his golf cart on his property in Queen Creek but bluntly refused to comment on the speculation when approached
He spends part of his days tending his animals and driving around his neat property on an eight-seater golf cart
Epps has come under scrutiny from the right, particularly right-leaning blog Revolver who branded him a ‘Fed-protected provocateur’
The driveway entrance to the sprawling property proudly bears the name ‘EPPS’
When we arrived at the property in Queen Creek, 30 miles southeast of downtown Phoenix, to give him an opportunity to confront the extreme speculation, he bluntly refused to discuss it.
He told us: ‘Get off my property’. As we endeavored to further explain, he repeated: ‘Get off my property.’
Epps spends part of his days tending his animals and driving around on an eight-seater golf cart, as our exclusive pictures reveal.
He had swapped out the red Trump cap he wore in Washington for a beige Marines one. Wrapped against the desert winter chill, he appeared wary and on his guard beside the driveway entrance posts proudly bearing the name ‘EPPS.’
The bucolic scene was a far cry from the howling mobs who stormed the Capitol Building and fought police shortly after then-President Trump delivered a speech to thousands of MAGA supporters at a nearby ‘Stop the Steal’ rally.
Epps – who was quickly identified from the January wanted list – was highlighted again in October’s House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing of the Department of Justice, when the FBI theory went mainstream.
U.S Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) showed video clips of Epps repeatedly encouraging protestors on the streets of DC to ‘go into’ the Capitol.
The 60-year-old was seen among his cattle and livestock at his farm just before the holidays
Epps, who has never been arrested in connection with the storming, refused to address the theories surrounding his motives
Massie linked Epps to his question asking Attorney General Merrick Garland if the government sent agents or assets to ‘agitate’ protestors into entering the building.
Garland said the Justice Department does not comment on pending investigations.
In the first video played to the committee, Epps is seen in the street on January 5 saying: ‘In fact tomorrow, I don’t even want to say it because I will probably be arrested. Tomorrow we need to go into the Capitol.’
On the same day, he is recorded saying: ‘I’m going to put it out there. I’m probably going to go to jail for it, OK? Tomorrow, we need to go into the Capitol. Into the Capitol…peacefully.’
At that point some in the crowd clearly believe he is a plant and begin to chant: ‘Fed! Fed! Fed!’
The following day, Epps can be seen in another clip dressed in military-style clothing and yelling to a crowd: ‘OK folks, spread the word. As soon as the president is done speaking, we go to the Capitol, where our problems are.’
Pointing behind him, he adds: ‘It’s that direction. Please spread the word.’
Epps and his wife initially concentrated on selling grass-fed beef together with eggs and tomatoes at farmers markets but later turned their business into a wedding venue, launching in 2019
General views of the Knotty Barn venue
Their company incorporates a wedding venue they call Knotty Barn, where couples can marry amid rustic beauty and even stay in a bridal suite
Shortly afterwards he is seen approaching police barricades holding back chanting protestors.
He put his hands on the shoulders of a man in a red MAGA hat and then cups his hands to speak in the man’s ear.
Moments later the man and protestors suddenly topple the barriers and some fight with police.
The man in the hat, later identified as Ryan Samsel, is being held in custody on charges of unlawfully entering the Capitol and assaulting a law enforcement officer.
In another video Epps, who was also toting a military-style backpack, is speaking to a man who asks: ‘Are we going to get arrested?’
Epps tells him: ‘When we go in, leave this here.’ It is not clear what he is referring to, but then he adds: ‘We don’t need to get shot.’
The ex-marine was quizzed by the Arizona Republic over what he meant by ‘go into the Capitol’.
He told his local newspaper: ‘The only thing that meant is we would go in the doors like everyone else. It was totally, totally wrong the way they went in…I didn’t do anything wrong.’
The most dramatic interpretation of the FBI-plant accusation has so far come from right-leaning blog Revolver.
The site is run by former Trump speechwriter Darren Beattie, who was fired after appearing on a panel with a white nationalist.
The day before the riot, Epps was recorded saying: ‘I’m going to put it out there. I’m probably going to go to jail for it, OK? Tomorrow, we need to go into the Capitol. Into the Capitol…peacefully’
There is no evidence that Epps, who was a sergeant in the military, ever entered the building himself on that fateful day and he was never arrested in connection with the siege
Epps’s alleged involvement was highlighted in October’s House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing of the Department of Justice, when the FBI theory went mainstream. U.S Rep Thomas Massie (R-KY) (pictured) showed video clips of Epps repeatedly encouraging protesters
It claims the fact Epps was never arrested and that his details were removed from the FBI wanted list in July without any action against him point to a sinister connection. It brands him a ‘Fed-protected provocateur’.
At one point the blog tries to excuse the actions of the rioters by blaming the military veteran and others who it does not identify.
It says: ‘Ray Epps appears to have worked alongside several individuals – many of them suspiciously unindicted – to carry out a breach of the police barricades that induced a subsequent flood of unsuspecting MAGA protestors to unwittingly trespass on Capitol restricted grounds and place themselves in legal jeopardy.’
However the blog offers no direct evidence to back up any allegation that Epps was acting on behalf of the FBI or any other government agency.
Epps was president of the Oath Keepers’ Arizona chapter, the country’s largest, in 2011. Many of the far-right militia group are among the 727 people from 40 states charged with offenses in the insurrection.
However it is not known if he is still affiliated with the organization, which targets veterans and ex-law enforcement for membership.
Arizona-born Epps bought his current property as a five-acre horse farm in 2010, paying $252,000. He and Robyn, also 60, have developed the site and possibly added to the acreage of Rocking R Farms.
Right-wing blog Revolver reported on the theory and pointed to the fact that Epps was never arrested and that his details were removed from the FBI wanted list in July without any action against him
Their company incorporates a wedding venue they call Knotty Barn, where couples can marry amid rustic beauty and even stay in a bridal suite.
They explain on their website: ‘Ray has farming in his blood. One side of his family raised dairy cows and the other raised range cattle. He worked on the farm beside his parents and grandparents most of his adolescent life.’
Epps met Robyn in Las Vegas where he was working as a contractor She hired him to fix the roof of an apartment building owned by her boss.
An explosion caused by a police munition was seen while supporters of President Donald Trump rioted in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021
Their website says: ‘Robyn told an employee to catch Ray and ask him to come back in before he got into his truck.
‘That night, they went out on a date and not long afterward, Ray asked Robyn to marry him. Their love is still very strong today and memories are rekindled every time they walk a bride and groom through their property.’
Of their property, they say: ‘In 2010, Ray wanted to return to his roots, so he and Robyn bought a 5-acre farm…
‘Ray brought cattle to the farm along with horses, including his favorite horse, T-Rex, who roams contentedly through the front pasture.’
They initially concentrated on selling grass-fed beef together with eggs and tomatoes at farmers markets. But in 2016 the bottom fell out of the market so they repurposed their business into a wedding venue, launching in 2019.