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US charges rioters after viral photos of Capitol siege

January 9, 2021

Charges over the Washington violence included assaulting a police officer and possessing bombs. A man who was seen wearing fur and horns while carrying a spear was among those indicted.

Police confronting rioters, including the spear-carrying QAnon supporter Jake Angeli
Jacob Chansley, aka Jake Angeli, was arrested photos of him inside the Capitol building went viral Image: Mike Theiler/REUTERS

A man whose image went viral during the US Capitol siege was arrested on Saturday, US officials confirmed, as the country's security forces continued to bring criminal charges against the suspected rioters.

Jacob Chansley, who wore a horned helmet and carried a spear inside the Capitol building, and is a supporter of the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory, was charged with "knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds."

He was brought in on Saturday after making contact with the FBI two days earlier to voluntarily speak to law enforcement. "Chansley said that he came as part of a group effort with other 'patriots' from Arizona, at the request of the President that all 'patriots' come to D.C. on January 6, 2021," the Department of Justice said in a release.

Adam Johnson, 36, from Florida was also arrested on Friday after he was photographed waving at the camera while walking off with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's lectern. People took to Twitter to share his mugshots after several charges were leveled against him, including theft of government property.

Charges of insurrection unlikely

Ken Kohl, a federal prosecutor with the Washington US attorney's office, said authorities did not expect to charge anyone with "incitement" or "insurrection" stemming from Wednesday's violence. Most of these individuals were charged with illegal entry into restricted buildings of Congress and violent or disorderly conduct.

They were also charged with impeding government functions as the violence delayed the confirmation of the electoral votes from the 2020 presidential election, which was won by Democratic Party candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden.

"The lawless destruction of the US Capitol building was an attack against one of our nation's greatest institutions," said acting US Attorney Michael Sherwin in a statement.

"Just because you've left the DC 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, FBI Washington Field Office's assistant director in charge.

Who was charged?

West Virginia state lawmaker Derrick Evans resigned from his position on Saturday following his arrest related to his alleged actions during Wednesday's violence.

Evans was charged with entering a restricted area and disorderly conduct. If convicted on the two misdemeanors, he could see up to 18 months in a federal prison.

Evans livestreamed himself going into the Capitol building and walking around the Capitol Rotunda. The video has been deleted.

"I take full responsibility for my actions, and deeply regret any hurt, pain or embarrassment I may have caused my family, friends, constituents and fellow West Virginians," said Evans in a statement.  

Richard Barnett, who was photographed in Nancy Pelosi's office, and later showed a letter that he took off her desk, was charged with knowingly entering or remaining in restricted grounds without authority, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and theft of public property or records. If convicted, he could see up to one year in federal prison.

Trump supporter Richard Barnett in Nancy Pelosi's office
Richard Barnett was one of the most well-known faces from Wednesday's events as he sat in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's officeImage: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said images of Barnett with his boots on Pelosi's desk were "repulsive." He added, "those who are proven to have committed criminal acts during the storming of the Capitol will face justice."

Barnett turned himself in to FBI agents in the Benton County Sheriff's Office in Fayetteville, Arkansas, without bond.

Also facing charges was Lonnie Coffman of Alabama, who parked a truck near the Capitol that contained 11 Molotov cocktails and firearms.

Kohl said the charges announced on Friday were on the federal level and could carry a strong punishment.

Another 40 people were facing lesser charges, such as curfew violations, weapons offenses and unlawful entry, in the local District of Columbia Superior Court. Many of those individuals were arraigned on Thursday and released with an order to stay out of the capital city unless it is for court appearances or meetings with their legal assistance.

Will President Trump be charged?

There have been calls for US President Donald Trump, members of his family, and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to be charged with incitement for encouraging people to take action during a rally on the National Mall in front of the Capitol building.

However, US prosecutor Ken Kohl seemed to reject these calls, saying that "we don't expect any charges of that nature."

kbd,ab/dj (AFP, Reuters, AP)