Who was Benjamin Phillips? Pennsylvania man, 50, who died of stroke at Capitol riots created pro-Trump websites

Who was Benjamin Phillips? Pennsylvania man, 50, who died of stroke at Capitol riots created pro-Trump websites
Benjamin Phillips (Keith Haupt / Press Enterprise)

The unfateful day on January 6, 2021, led to five shocking deaths after chaos flared up as pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol building and stormed into the Senate chamber. At first, a woman killed by the United States Capitol Police was identified as Ashli E Babbitt, 35, of San Diego and thousands expressed sorrow. Soon after, the death toll rose up to four.

Other three Trump fanatics who died during the mob attack were also identified soon after. They were Benjamin Phillips, 50, of Ringtown, Pennsylvania; Kevin Greeson, 55, of Athens, Alabama; and Rosanne Boyland, 34, of Kennesaw, Georgia. The three were reported to have experienced medical emergencies, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee said.


Who was Benjamin Phillips?

Born in 1970, Benjamin Phillips was the founder of a pro-Trump social media site called Trumparoo. A web developer and computer programmer who founded the website for Trump supporters and coordinated transportation for several dozen people from Pennsylvania to Washington, the 50-year-old drove to Washington in a white van, smiling over the steering wheel, according to Philadelphia Inquirer.

Spilling more details about his life, he said in an interview that he moved to Bloomsburg from Philadelphia after 25 years to take care of his mother who had Alzheimer’s. According to a LinkedIn page, he received a degree in computer science from Temple University. Both the Inquirer and the Bloomsburg Press Enterprise spoke with Phillips before the rally. Before dawn, the group left from the Bass Pro Shop in Harrisburg and picked up additional passengers in York. Phillips reportedly drove a separate van, trailing the bus.

Once the group reached Washington, he left them to find a place to park. “It seems like the first day of the rest of our lives, to be honest,” he said, eager to protest what he believed was a stolen election. “They should name this year Zero because something will happen.” Reports say people from other states were staying at his home. He said, “My 'hostel' is already full.”

Benjamin Phillips (Twitter)

Who is his ex-wife, Nicole S Mun?

Benjamin Phillips exchanged vows with Nicole S Mun in 1999 but the two parted ways five years later. After his tragic death, a statement from his ex-wife found its way to social media. Posted by NBC News reporter Ben Kesslen, the tweet read: “Statement from the ex-wife of Benjamin Phillips, who also died at the Capitol yesterday.”

In the statement, Nicole said: “I can confirm that I was married to Benjamin Phillips from 1999 to 2004. Since our divorce in 2004, we have had no relationship beyond occasionally discussing the care of our two teenage children. As my children are grieving and processing yesterday's shocking events, I respectfully request privacy. I will have no further comment.”

Going by the statement, Ben Phillips has two teenage children, but details of their whereabouts are not yet known.

How did Benjamin Phillips die? 

A member of the group from Honesdale, Gordy Smith, said several people called Phillips when it was time to leave but he didn't arrive. One of those calls was answered by Washington police and told them Phillips suffered a stroke and died at George Washington University Hospital. “Everyone was shocked,” Smith said. “It was a very somber drive home.” Last seen around 10.30 am Wednesday, he did not show up to meet them for the 6 pm departure. “That was the last we saw him,” Smith said. As of now, no other details about his death has been divulged by the Washington police.

Talking about the tragic end to the day, another member of the group from York said, “It seemed like the event was getting out an important message up until the ignorance started,” adding, “as far as I observed, those people that broke in didn’t fit the pattern of the protesters of the day.” He also said, “There wasn’t much talking at all coming back. For the most part people were on their phones or staring out the window like I was.”

Benjamin Phillips (Keith Haupt / Press Enterprise)

What is Trumparoo?

Phillips was photographed by Keith Haupt carrying two little kangaroos — one with a tuft of golden-brown hair wearing gloves made of the red, white and blue striped design of the American flag. The stuffed toys were meant to resemble the president. “There needs to be more uncensored spaces,” he told Inquirer. “I envision a whole network of niche social networks based on interests. You don’t need Twitter and Facebook, they hate us. They don’t need us there.”

Using his programming skills, Phillips created websites like “The Scummy Democrats” and “Trumparoo” to oppose Democrats and stand in support of Trump. Named after a stuffed kangaroo he created, the website helped organize visits and one such event invited attendees: “Caravan to the Capital — Join our ROAD TRIP to DC on Jan 6, 2021.”

Trumparoo's event invitation read, “Dear Patriots, this is 1776 all over again, if we don't fight now, we lose our country, it's that simple! If you'd like to join us for a caravan of patriots, we're leaving at a new time of 6 am from Bloomsburg, PA on Wed Jan 6 to go to the Washington DC Fight For Trump protest with hundreds of thousands of other patriotic Americans who are going to FIGHT FOR TRUMP!!!”

Trumparoo (EventBrite)

A kind soul

Sketching out his kind and benevolent side, reports say he welcomed a reporter even though he mistrusted the media. What's more, he also invited many to stay at his apartment ahead of the trip. “Everybody’s so nice, it’s the coolest thing that you can just put a bunch of Trump supporters in a tiny apartment and just let them have at it and they’ll get along great,” he told Inquirer as he drove the van bound for Washington. “They feel like part of your family for some reason.”

Many mourned his death on social media. “50 yo Benjamin Phillips from Pennsylvania. He founded website #Trumparoo, where Trump supporters can speak to each other,and organized transport for dozens of people to get to DC from Pennsylvania on Wednesday. Phillips suffered a stroke and died afterwards,” one tweet read and another said, My heart goes out to the children of all of the people killed during the hate and insanity that happened towards our country. The baseless lies and misinformation spewed by @FoxNews and so many on the far-right have ruined so many families in our nation.”



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