A Massachusetts National Guard member suspected of leaking military intelligence was filmed in aerial footage calmly reading a book on his porch as an armored vehicle crawled down his driveway.
Video recorded by Boston-based news channel WCBV captured the moment 21-year-old Jacques Teixeira was taken into custody just moments after reporters from the New York Times tried to knock on his door.
Government sources revealed that although FBI agents had refrained from taking action against him, they had monitored Teixeira for at least two days prior to his arrest, but feared an armed confrontation with a gun enthusiast.
So they were forced to make an early move on the alleged leaker, as the journalist also cordoned off his house – on foot, drones and helicopters.
Jacques Teixeira, 21, was captured in aerial footage calmly reading a book on his porch as an armored vehicle crept quietly up his driveway.
FBI agents had watched Teixeira for at least two days before his arrest, but held back from making a move for fear of a gunfight as he was rumored to have weapons.
Once the news broke that top secret materials detailing US military strategy in Ukraine were circulating on meme groups on the Internet, a race ensued between federal agencies and reporters to identify the source.
Some have criticized the FBI because journalists snooping online appeared to solve the case faster than the bureau did, but officials now suggest they were waiting for the right moment to get off the ground.
“The FBI certainly didn’t like being in a race with reporters,” said John Miller, CNN’s senior law enforcement and intelligence analyst.
Over the past week, reporters from The New York Times and The Washington Post, in particular, have been infiltrating niche internet groups and interviewing members in hopes of identifying the culprit behind the leaks.
Just an hour and a half before his arrest, the Times published Teixeira’s name.
CNN aired aerial footage of Teixeira’s arrest after the New York Times reported his name earlier Thursday
Miller says the FBI has been watching Teixeira for a while.
They had been approaching Teixeira for a few days. The investigation took place in just five days. His father’s home and his mother’s home were under surveillance.
What they wanted to do was to arrest him when he went to work at the military base he was assigned to. It would have been a controlled environment. But he didn’t go to work today.
“He was not aware of his mental state, facing a trained military person in a house with a gun was not an ideal scenario.”
Some of Teixeira’s peers and colleagues revealed this CNN that Teixeira had been infatuated with the military long before he became a Ranger.
Jacques Teixeira, a 21-year-old member of the National Guard, was arrested by FBI officials Thursday for leaking classified US intelligence documents related to the war in Ukraine.
“His social media posts indicated that he possesses a large number of weapons including military-style assault weapons, and of course he has received military training in those weapons,” Miller said.
As such, officials were concerned that if he felt cornered a gunfight might ensue.
But then, when New York Times reporters brazenly approached his door, the FBI decided to make a move.
Surveillance teams literally watched as New York Times reporters showed up at the door. The suspect’s name was in the Times and that was a social media post — so the FBI made the decision to go,” he said.
Two members of the chatroom described Teixeira to The Washington Post on Wednesday night.
“He’s fit. He’s strong. He’s armed. He’s trained. Almost everything you can expect from some kind of crazy movie,” said one of the members.
He described him as “a charismatic young man who loves nature and God and shoots guns and race cars”.
Amid an extensive search for the source of the leaks, The Washington Post reported that it had seen videos and photos of the man, as well as recordings of his interactions with members of the group.
Matched inside Teixeira’s childhood home in Bristol, Massachusetts, are photos of sensitive files on the US intelligence and Ukraine war that have been shared on forums since the end of last year, according to the Times.
This document appears to show the state of Ukraine’s air defenses in February and May, when they are expected to be severely depleted.
In a video seen by The Post, the man is seen at a shooting range with a large rifle, safety goggles and earmuffs. The man looks into the camera and shouts racist and anti-Semitic insults, then fires several rounds at a target.
News footage from a helicopter of his arrest on Thursday showed the suspect, dressed in red shorts, with his hands behind his back, being loaded into an unmarked SUV by heavily armed agents.
The FBI said in a statement that its officers “continue to conduct authorized law enforcement activity at the home” where he was arrested.
The potential charges could carry up to 10 years in prison, even if Teixeira did not intend to cause harm, said Brandon Van Graak, a former Department of Justice national security prosecutor now with law firm Morrison Forrester.
“I think this is the person who runs the risk of years in prison because the leaks were so devastating,” Van Graak said.
His arrest comes after President Joe Biden said during the third day of his trip to Ireland that investigators were “coming closer” to finding out the source.
Biden also said he is not “concerned” about sharing documents that threaten to risk American assets around the world because the information is not “contemporary.”
The intelligence in the files included information indicating that Ukraine would soon run out of artillery and potentially risk US intelligence sources around the world.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has warned that rules for accessing classified documents could be tightened as a result of the leak.
He said he “would not hesitate to take any additional actions necessary to preserve our nation’s secrets.”
“Everyone in the US service, civilian (Defense Department) and contractor with access to classified information, has a serious legal and moral obligation to protect it and report any suspicious activity or behavior,” he said.
Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder went further than Austin, calling the leak of classified information a “deliberate criminal act.”
Hours after Teixeira’s arrest, Mike Turner, the Republican congressman who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, vowed to “examine why this happened, why it went unnoticed for weeks, and how to prevent future leaks.”