Politics

Man in viral photo at Nancy Pelosi’s desk among 13 charged with federal crimes

(CNN) — The man photographed sitting at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk during Wednesday’s riots in the U.S. Capitol has been arrested and charged with three federal counts, including theft of public property, federal officials said Friday.

Federal officials said Richard Barnett of Arkansas was taken into custody Friday morning in Little Rock.

Barnett was charged with knowingly entering and remaining in restricted building grounds without authority, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds as well as the theft of public property, officials said.

Richard Barnett, a supporter of US President Donald Trump sits inside the office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as he protests inside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021. – Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

A resident of Alabama was also charged in connection with the pipe bomb found on the south side of the Capitol building. Eleven Molotov cocktails and military-style weapon were found in his pickup truck, officials said.

“Just because you’ve left the D.C. region you can still expect a knock on the door if we find out you were part of the criminal activity at the Capitol,” said Steven D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office.

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“The FBI is not sparing any resources in this investigation,” he said.

The Department of Justice on Friday announced that 13 people are facing federal charges stemming from the riot Wednesday at the Capitol. The full court records have not yet been made available for all defendants and only a handful of the individuals have made court appearances. In addition to those who have been charged, the Justice Department said that additional complaints “have been submitted and investigations are ongoing.”

“The lawless destruction of the U.S. Capitol building was an attack against one of our Nation’s greatest institutions,” said acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin. “My Office, along with our law enforcement partners at all levels, have been expeditiously working and leveraging every resource to identify, arrest, and begin prosecuting these individuals who took part in the brazen criminal acts at the U.S. Capitol.”

It was not immediately clear whether Barnett has an attorney.

Barnett is in FBI custody, the Benton County, Arkansas, sheriff’s office public information officer Lt. Shannon Jenkins confirmed to CNN.

“He is in the custody of the FBI. He did not get booked into our facility. He was transported to another facility and in the custody of the FBI,” she said in an email.

When asked, Jenkins did not provide the name of the facility that Barnett was transferred to.

Even as more arrests are made in connection with the breach of the Capitol, lawmakers say they are perplexed at the lack of preparedness among law enforcement given that it had been known for weeks that President Donald Trump was promoting a rally he said was aimed at preventing the certification of Joe Biden’s win.

In response, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund is resigning. He said in a statement Thursday that Capitol Police and other law enforcement officers were “actively attacked” with metal pipes and other weapons.

“They were determined to enter into the Capitol Building by causing great damage,” Sund said.

“The violent attack on the U.S. Capitol was unlike any I have ever experienced in my 30 years in law enforcement here in Washington, D.C.,” he added. “Maintaining public safety in an open environment — specifically for First Amendment activities — has long been a challenge.”

Beyond just arrests, multiple rioters who were at the Capitol are being identified through images and video on social media, and some have lost or left their jobs because of it.

Direct marketing company Navistar, for example, announced that an employee had been terminated after he was photographed wearing his company ID badge inside the breached Capitol.

“While we support all employees’ right to peaceful, lawful exercise of free speech, any employee demonstrating dangerous conduct that endangers the health and safety of others will no longer have an employment opportunity with Navistar Direct Marketing,” the company said in a statement provided to CNN.

This story has been updated with additional information Friday.

News release from US Department of Justice

“Thirteen Charged in Federal Court Following Riot at the United States Capitol

“Approximately 40 charged in Superior Court

“Thirteen individuals have been charged so far in federal court in the District of Columbia related to crimes committed at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C, on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. In addition to those who have been charged, additional complaints have been submitted and investigations are ongoing.

“‘The lawless destruction of the U.S. Capitol building was an attack against one of our Nation’s greatest institutions,’ said Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin. ‘My Office, along with our law enforcement partners at all levels, have been expeditiously working and leveraging every resource to identify, arrest, and begin prosecuting these individuals who took part in the brazen criminal acts at the U.S. Capitol. We are resolute in our commitment to holding accountable anyone responsible for these disgraceful criminal acts, and to anyone who might be considering engaging in or inciting violence in the coming weeks – know this: you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.’

“‘ATF is committed to the rule of law and the protection of all citizens’ Constitutional rights,’ said Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Deputy Director Regina Lombardo. ‘We continue to support our law enforcement partners to ensure those who violated the law during the events at the Capitol this week are brought to justice. ATF has dedicated all appropriate resources to complete these investigations as soon as possible.’

“‘Today’s charges are just the beginning of the FBI’s ongoing efforts to hold those responsible for the criminal acts of violence and destruction that unfolded during the U.S. Capitol building breach on January 6th,’ said FBI Director Christopher Wray. ‘To be clear, what took place that day was not First Amendment-protected activity, but rather an affront on our democracy. The FBI, along with our local, state and federal partners, is committed to ensuring that justice is served. We will continue to aggressively investigate each and every individual who chose to ignore the law and instead incite violence, destroy property, and injure others.’

“‘Deputy U.S. Marshals responded to support U.S. Capitol Police after the incursion into the Capitol building. Our deputies helped to clear the building and escorted members of Congress back to the main chamber for official business,’ said U.S. Marshals Service Director Donald Washington. ‘US Marshals will now bring to bear our fugitive investigations expertise to ensure that individuals charged in federal warrants are brought to face justice. Respect for the rule of law is a foundational principle for our democracy and the freedoms that it provides.  Unlawful acts will not go unpunished.’

“‘The events that happened at and around the United States Capitol were unconscionable, and those responsible will be held accountable for their attempts to thwart Democracy,’ said Metropolitan Police Department Chief of Police Robert J. Contee III. ‘While these charges represent a positive step, there is still work to be done. Our collective intentions are to work diligently to identify all of the persons responsible for the insurrection at our U.S. Capitol.’

“Thirteen individuals have been charged with federal crimes. The defendants and charges are outlined below:

“1. Cleveland Meredith was charged on Jan. 7, 2021, with making interstate threats to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“2. Richard Barnett, of Arkansas, was charged on Jan. 7, 2021, with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful entry; violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds; and theft of public money, property, or records. Barnett allegedly entered a restricted are of the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

“3. Lonnie Coffman, of Alabama, was charged on Jan. 7, 2021, with possession of an unregistered firearm (destructive device) and carrying a pistol without a license. It is alleged that Coffman’s vehicle contained 11 explosive devices known as Molotov cocktails and firearms. It is further alleged he was in possession of two firearms. Coffman was arrested and is currently being held. His detention hearing is scheduled for Jan. 12, 2021.

“4.Mark Leffingwell, was charged on Jan. 7, 2021, with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; assault on a federal law enforcement officer; and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Leffingwell allegedly entered the Senate side of the Capitol and when stopped by law enforcement, struck an officer in the helmet and chest. Leffingwell is currently being held and has a detention hearing in district court today.

“5. Christopher Alberts, of Maryland, was charged on Jan. 7, 2021, with carrying or having readily accessible, on the grounds of the United States Capitol Building, a firearm and ammunition. Specifically a Taurus G2C, 9mm handgun and 9mm caliber ammunition. The defendant appeared in district court and was released. He has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Jan. 28, 2021.

“6. Joshua Pruitt, was charged on Jan. 7, 2021, with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority. The defendant appeared in district court and was released. He has a preliminary hearing scheduled for Jan. 28, 2021.

“7. Matthew Council, of Florida, was charged on Jan. 7, 2021, with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Council allegedly unlawfully entered the Capitol building, and when stopped by law enforcement, he pushed the officer.

“8. Cindy Fitchett, of Virginia, was charged on Jan. 7, 2021, with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; or knowingly, with intent to impede government business or official functions, engaging in disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds; and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.  

“9. Michael Curzio, of Florida, was charged on Jan. 7, 2021, with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; or knowingly, with intent to impede government business or official functions, engaging in disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds; and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. 

“10. Douglas Sweet, of Florida, was charged on Jan. 7, 2021, with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; or knowingly, with intent to impede government business or official functions, engaging in disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds; and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. 

“11. Bradley Ruskelas, of Illinois, was charged on Jan. 7, 2021, with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; or knowingly, with intent to impede government business or official functions, engaging in disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds; and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. 

“12. Terry Brown, of Pennsylvania, was charged on Jan. 7, 2021, with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; or knowingly, with intent to impede government business or official functions, engaging in disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds; and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. 

“13. Thomas Gallagher was charged on Jan. 7, 2021, with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; or knowingly, with intent to impede government business or official functions, engaging in disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds; and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

“In addition, approximately 40 individuals have been arrested and charged in Superior Court with offenses including, but not limited to, unlawful entry, curfew violations, and firearms-related crimes.

“The cases are being prosecuted by the U.S Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and are being investigated jointly by the FBI; U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; United States Marshals Service; U.S. Capitol Police Department; and the Metropolitan Police Department.

“The ATF and FBI continue to urge the public to report suspected use of explosive devices, or violent, destructive acts associated with the recent unrest. Anyone with information can call 1-888-ATF-TIPS (1-888-283-8477), email ATFTips@atf.gov or submit information anonymously via ReportIt.com.

“The FBI is looking for individuals who may have incited or promoted violence of any kind. Anyone with digital material or tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or submit images or videos at fbi.gov/USCapitol.

“The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.”

U.S. Department of Justice news release issued Jan. 8, 2021

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