A Philadelphia police detective from the unit that investigates the backgrounds of potential recruits has been temporarily reassigned based on a tip that she attended the rally in Washington where President Donald Trump incited his followers to storm the Capitol.
Detective Jennifer Gugger was removed from her position in the police department’s Recruit Background Investigations Unit on Saturday after Internal Affairs received social media posts indicating that she had been at the Wednesday event, departmental sources said.
Sgt. Eric Gripp, a police spokesperson, confirmed that a detective had been reassigned from that unit pending the outcome of the investigation, but would not confirm the detective’s identity. He said the detective had not been placed on restricted duty. The detective’s new assignment was not available.
The tip did not include evidence that Gugger had been inside the Capitol or had participated in the violence. Five people died in or near the Capitol, including a Capitol police officer who apparently was struck by a fire extinguisher in the chaos.
“The allegation was that she was at the event,” Gripp said. “Due to what unfolded at the event, we have opened an Internal Affairs investigation to see precisely what, if any, participation she had in it.”
In a screenshot of a Facebook post that has since been taken down, but was reviewed by The Inquirer, Gugger, using the name Jenny Lynn, tagged friends she said were at the rally and posted photos of the Washington Monument and a small crowd on the street.
“#StopTheSteal Drinking beers with fellow patriots!” she wrote.
The friends whom Gugger tagged later posted videos of the crowd as it amassed outside the Capitol, with one friend described as being near the Capitol steps when insurrectionists breached the building. That friend wrote in a post that the only people looking to start trouble were a “few Antifa scumbags wearing Trump stuff walking toward the Capitol with bats.”
“Yep,” Gugger agreed.
(There is no credible evidence that the siege was instigated or led by members of antifa, short for “anti-fascists,” or members of any other far-left group.)
Until recently, Gugger’s Facebook profile photo was a reference to the QAnon conspiracy movement that the FBI has described as a domestic terror threat. It showed lightning bolts striking the Washington Monument behind the letter “Q.” Underneath the photo were the words, “The storm has arrived,” an apparent reference, according to QAnon believers, to the day when Trump would overthrow an elitist global cabal working against him.
Gugger’s unit in the police department is responsible for performing background checks on potential recruits. That includes examining social media activity.
Gugger could not be reached for comment on Sunday. A spokesperson for John McNesby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5, said the union had not yet received details of the investigation.
The national FOP in 2016 endorsed Trump, stating that he “has the full and enthusiastic support” of the union because he “calls for law and order across our nation.” The Philadelphia FOP fell in line with that endorsement, with McNesby saying the local union was bound by the national union’s decision.
In July, when Vice President Mike Pence visited the Philadelphia FOP headquarters in Northeast Philadelphia, members of the alt-right group the Proud Boys attended the rally and after party. Hundreds of pro-Trump police supporters gathered outside, some chanting “blue lives matter” and hurling racist insults at a smaller group of Black Lives Matter protesters. McNesby later said the Proud Boys had not been invited.
The Washington Post reported Saturday that police departments across the country are investigating members who might have taken part in the riot, including two police officers from Seattle — who posted on social media from inside the Capitol — as well as an officer from Zelienople, Pa., a small borough near Pittsburgh; a police chief from Troy, N.H.; and a sheriff’s deputy from Texas.
Gripp said the Philadelphia Police Department has not received reports of other officers attending the event.