Rochester man charged in Capitol riot went to Aquinas, served in Marines

Updated: January 15, 2021 10:29 PM
Created: January 15, 2021 03:08 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A Rochester man is accused of breaking windows at the U.S. Capitol during the violent insurrection last week

Dominic Pezzola, 43, is charged with the destruction of government property, being on restricted buildings or grounds and obstruction of an official proceeding.

Pezzola graduated from The Aquinas Institute of Rochester, a private Catholic school, in 1995.

The school released the following statement:

News10NBC Anchor and Reporter Deanna Dewberry spoke at length with one of Pezzola's former classmates at Aquinas.

His classmate says while he wasn't a strong student, he was a gifted athlete as a member of the boxing team and a starter on the football team.

He remembers him as being one of the best boxers on the team, he was extraordinarily fit, even as a high school kid.

But in recent years, his classmates said he grew increasingly angry.

His classmate says his posts were alt-right and inflammatory, so much so he unfriended him.

Pezzola served in the Marines after high school and was reportedly proud of his service, but while he may have been a success in the service, he apparently was less so in civilian life.

Public records show he filed for foreclosure in 2012. In 2013 he tried his hand in business, opening D Pezzola Flooring.

Dewberry also uncovered four federal tax leans and seven state tax warrants.

News10NBC reached another former high school classmate who said she does not remember Pezzola fondly.

She wrote, "He terrifies me. He was aloof, angry, always bickering with people. Fights at parties. Just not a very nice guy. No one is surprised. His Facebook page was crazy. Very angry. Political. Guns. Anger. A lot of us, including me, unfriended him. Just really off his rocker."

Dewberry also spoke with Tess Owen, a senior reporter from Vice, who after extensive research was able to verify that Pezzola was a member of the Proud Boys.

"We had matched this viral video the man in the viral video with the sort of vacant wild-eyed stare to everyone was going who is this guy in the non-descript gray coat, we were able to match him to a protest a few weeks earlier in D.C. where there were Proud Boys who were in their uniform," Owen said. "He was actually a very visible part of that protest. There are photos all over online where he is front and center."

She also said Pezzola did a good job of covering his tracks, so it took searching a great deal of pictures and video of Proud Boys' events to verify it was Pezzola who uses the alias "Spazzo" online.    

Her research corroborated Dewberry's own in that it appears that Pezzola became radicalized over the last several years, and his Facebook posts reflected that.

Owen says a classmate of Pezzola told her, "He had a very intensely angry rhetoric, and it got progressively worse over the years. He was very angry about Obama and that turned into some racist posts."

Copyright 2021 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

Comment on Facebook