Deborah Wilson was surprised a few weeks ago when an FBI agent called her to say he was in her driveway and she needed to come home immediately. “That kind of stuff doesn’t happen here in Lebanon,” she said. She was served a subpoena by the FBI to go to Washington, D.C., to testify in the trial of Kyle Fitzsimons, who is facing nearly a dozen charges for his role in the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

LEBANON — Deborah Wilson was heading toward home on the afternoon of Aug. 11 when a call came in on her cellphone from an unfamiliar number. This wasn’t so unusual. She’s a self-described “dot-connector” who spends her time linking up friends and neighbors with services and help of all kinds, so her phone is always buzzing with calls, texts and emails from strangers.

But this caller was an FBI agent, asking when she expected to get home.

“I go, ‘Right,’” Wilson said recently, laughing as she recalled the moment. “I didn’t believe it.”

When Wilson pulled into her driveway, agents were waiting to hand her a subpoena for the trial of Kyle Fitzsimons, a Lebanon man facing 11 federal charges for his role in the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Kyle Fitzsimons, a Mainer who is one of more than 600 people charged with participating in the riot on Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol.

Federal prosecutors say Fitzsimons, 38, assaulted and injured at least two law enforcement officers and attempted to harm a third with a dangerous weapon. In his four-day bench trial last month in Washington, attorneys for the U.S. Department of Justice played videos that they said clearly showed Fitzsimons carrying an unstrung bow and later releasing it in the air, pulling on an officer’s shield, and knocking the gas mask off another officer while someone sprayed bear spray into the officer’s face.

But Wilson wasn’t in Washington with Fitzsimons, and she said she hardly knows the man she sometimes encountered in local government meetings.


“I did ask, ‘Why me?'” she said.

She later discovered it was because of an item she had agreed to post for Fitzsimons on her community page, “Lebanon Maine Truth Seekers,” which is mostly dedicated to Fire Department updates, missing pets and charity events in and around Lebanon. Wilson said she will occasionally use the page as a discussion board, posting submissions from other residents.

“I would say that the Facebook page tries to have the voice of the people here,” she said. “I try to present good things here in Lebanon and bad things, things that may need change.”

Fitzsimons’ submission, which she posted on Christmas Eve, began: “Would there be an interest locally in organizing a caravan to Washington DC for the Electoral College vote count on Jan 6th, 2021?”

Wilson was one of three locals called to testify in Fitzsimons’ trial. The others were a man from Rochester, New Hampshire, who runs a news website that covers Lebanon, and someone who used to live in Lebanon and notified the FBI after recognizing Fitzsimons in images from Jan. 6.

None of them knew Fitzsimons well, they said in court. He had lived in the community for only a few years, mostly keeping to himself.


Still, images of his bloodied face on Jan. 6 all over the news and social media have made him a sort of poster child for the insurrection – and every time his name is mentioned, so is Lebanon’s.

Now as they wait for his verdict, Wilson and her neighbors are left to debate whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing for their community of around 6,500 people in the southwest corner of Maine, sometimes described as “Lawless Lebanon” for its strange news stories and lack of local law enforcement.

“There’s people out there going, ‘It’s a black eye on our town,’” said Chuck Russell, a former member of the Lebanon Select Board. “How is it a black eye on our town? Because one guy does something stupid, you’re going to say it makes the whole town look bad?”

Deborah Wilson holds the subpoena she was recently served to testify in the trial of Kyle Fitzsimons. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer


Russell was removed from office with Wilson, who was on the town budget committee, and two others in a recall election in June 2021. Russell was accused of helping another board member steal a crop of medicinal marijuana plants from a man’s farm while he was in jail.

But on Jan. 7, 2021, when Russell was still chairman of the board, he allowed Fitzsimons to call into a meeting to describe his Jan. 6 experiences in Washington.


About seven people, including board members, sat around a phone on a long table. A couple public attendees sat against file cabinets along the walls of the narrow yellow conference room. The American flag that board members pledge allegiance to before each meeting leaned against a wall by the door.

“You’re live,” Russell told Fitzsimons, leaning toward the phone. “So what do you got going on?”

Everyone pictured in the video of the meeting wore a face mask.

Fitzsimons described the events that had occurred the day before as mostly peaceful. It was protesters like himself, he said, who were victims – of police brutality. The board members listened intently, offering no counternarrative.

“I’ve heard it described as a coup d’etat. I’ve heard it described as a peaceful protest gone wrong. I can tell you right now, as an American and as a thinking man, that it is a setup,” Fitzsimons told them. He spoke of ‘Asian provocateurs’ and described what had happened in Washington as “light-years from what people portrayed.”

“All these politicians, statewide, talk about how terrible it was of a protest. … The majority of people who went there were peaceful. The ones who weren’t were basically the antifa people,” one board member told others after Fitzsimons hung up.


Russell, who thanked Fitzsimons for calling, now says the board was unaware at the time of the full extent of the Jan. 6 violence and that they were “duped” by Fitzsimons.

“I didn’t understand what his involvement was at the time. I believed what he said. …” Russell said. “I would’ve cut him off if he was talking about how we were rushing the police officers and people were breaking in.

“I don’t necessarily think it was a mistake with the knowledge I had at the time and how he spoke,” he said of allowing Fitzsimons to call in to the meeting.


Fitzsimons was not a stranger to the Select Board or the other governing boards that report to them. He had attended meetings occasionally and had even addressed the board before.

In January 2020, on the day that thousands of gun-rights advocates showed up at the Virginia Capitol to protest proposed firearms restrictions, Fitzsimons asked the Select Board to consider making Lebanon a “Second Amendment sanctuary city.” He brought copies of a proposed ordinance he wanted the board to approve for an upcoming ballot that fall.


Wearing a suit and reading prepared remarks from his laptop, he told board members he was “pitted against” billionaires like Michael Bloomberg and Chinese government officials. He decried red flag laws that restrict the gun ownership of those who are deemed a danger to themselves or others.

“I need to express to you my grave concerns for this nation and how a grassroots response is warranted to defend gun rights in America,” he said. “I’m here to let you know there’s a constituent of yours who’s very concerned about where gun control is headed in America.”

Members told Fitzsimons that they supported Second Amendment rights and would review the proposed ordinance.

Fitzsimons had addressed the board for non-political topics as well, said Chip Harlow, a former chair of the Select Board whose term ended in 2019. Harlow, who said he chose not to run again for health reasons, recalled that Fitzsimons asked the board for permission to trap animals on public land as a service to others


In court records last month trying to get Fitzsimons released from a Washington jail pretrial, his defense attorney referred to him as a “freelance butcher for small farmers” throughout southern Maine.


In his call to the Select Board the day after the Jan. 6 riot, he mentioned wearing his butcher’s coat to the Capitol because “it was going to be the last day of the republic” and he wanted to “live it like I live every day.”

Fitzsimons was born in Newburgh, New York, and his father worked for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, according to court documents. He grew up around other children whose families were working at West Point. After high school, he got a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at New Paltz.

At the time of his arrest in February, he had been married for about three years. His daughter turned 3 last month.

His mother lives in Florida, and he has a sister in Chicago. His defense attorney described them in court filings as a close family.

On a Christian fundraising page that has gathered more than $22,000 toward a “family relief fund,” Fitzsimons’ mother, Jenean, wrote that Jan. 6 “forever changed the fabric of his and his family’s life,” and that they were “trusting God for the most favorable outcome of his trial.”

“Whatever thoughts you hold on the events of January 6th, I’m certain we can agree the egregious violations of due process rights guaranteed by the Constitution that must be afforded to every American have been denied to the J6 Patriots sitting in DC jails, without access to speedy trials, time outdoors, clean drinking water, or the right to gather for worship,” his mother wrote.


Filings by prosecutors focus less on family harmony than on family strain leading up to Jan. 6.

Prosecutors wrote last September that, while reviewing Fitzsimons’ cellphone, obtained through a search warrant, investigators discovered a text message from his wife on Jan. 5.

“After this trip you need to do some serious decision making,” she wrote. “If your (sic) not going to change, I don’t want anything to do with you. This is it kyle, it’s me and holly or politics. … Chose (sic) is yours.”


No one else from Lebanon has been arrested for Jan. 6 acts, but Wilson says she knows of others from town who also attended the “Stop the Steal” rally.

“It’s not my place to say who went, but I know,” she said.


She and others characterize the town as mostly conservative, made up of many people who moved there from across Maine and New England for lower taxes and less government. Driving down the streets of the large rural community, there are still Trump signs at the end of driveways.

In local politics, she said, Lebanon’s leaders and residents have a tendency to debate everything. You see it in the small conference room where the Select Board meets weekly and in lengthy comments sections on Facebook pages other than Wilsons’, created to spur political arguments.

“People here will argue with you over the color of your own eyes,” Wilson said. “But when somebody in this town is hurting, everybody is right there for them, to support them.”

“Facebook, quite frankly, is a huge amount of drama,” said Harlow, the former Select Board chair. “It’s very easy for people to say what they want without caring about anybody else.”

He doesn’t think the plentiful anonymous Facebook pages and groups in Lebanon make the community different from anywhere else – perhaps in the 21st century, that’s just part of small-town life. However, with few dedicated local news sources – no newspaper, no social media updates from town officials – Harlow said many are leaning on social media to get their information. Sometimes they’re relying on unchecked, inaccurate stories, or focusing on problems that are national, not local.

“This is local politics,” Harlow said. “I don’t think it should be national. But as society has become more polarized with national politics, that starts invading more areas. … I think it is becoming more prevalent in local politics, as far as what party you’re in.”

Wilson said Fitzsimons’ arrest and trial has created neighborhood strife. She sympathizes with Fitzsimons’ wife and daughter, who still live in the community. And even though she likes to clarify that she and Fitzsimons weren’t really friends, sometimes she can’t help but think of his “human side,” she says. During her trial testimony, she recalled one time, after his dog died, when Fitzsimons’ reached out to Wilson in case she knew of anyone who might need his leftover dog food.

She says she’s not one of those worried about the town’s reputation – from Fitzsimons, at least.

“Lebanon’s little nickname is ‘Lawless Lebanon,’ Wilson said. “It’s known all over the state as ‘Lawless Lebanon.’ And people here are either disgusted by that or they’re proud of it.”

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