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DC residents get visits from FBI as agents track cell phones that pinged near the Capitol

A DC woman said an FBI agent contacted her and said investigators were reaching out to the owner of every phone that touched a cell tower near the riot.

WASHINGTON — If you were anywhere near the Capitol on Jan. 6, you may be getting a knock on your door from the FBI.

A D.C. woman said an agent visited her neighbor and called her, telling them investigators were tracking people whose cell phones connected to wi-fi or pinged cell phone towers near the Capitol during the riots.

"They don't call first, they just come to your house," Bree Stevens, a legal investigator who lives near Capitol Hill, said. 

Stevens said an FBI agent told her they were reaching out to every single person whose cell phone put them near the Capitol during the riots.

She was out for a walk with a friend and his two young daughters on the afternoon of Jan. 6, but they were diverted by bomb scares until they ended up right next to the insurrection. Adults and kids were cordoned off and unable to get back to their apartments for four hours.

"You don't want to be anywhere where they're going to go!" she said on a video she shot while police officers in riot gear quick-stepped toward the Capitol. 

Monday night, an investigator knocked on the door of her friend's apartment, who was "in house clothes" at the time. 

"His little girl had just painted his toenails, that was a little bit embarrassing," Stevens said. 

Stevens was out of town, so the agent called her on the phone number that the FBI had tracked. 

"Extremely creepy, because he explained that they have everyone’s phone number from pinging off the cell phone towers, and they know basically exactly where you were, within the vicinity of the Capitol," Stevens said. "And they can actually pinpoint on Google Maps exactly where you were standing. Like, he knew where I was standing on the sidewalk, like specifically, based on my cell phone ping." 

Stevens said the agent told her she wasn't a suspect, but said he wanted pictures of things she might have seen.

Some civil rights advocates are concerned about the FBI's surveillance power.

When contacted, the FBI declined to discuss its investigative methods. 

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