WASHINGTON - A pro-Trump state lawmaker who filmed himself storming the U.S. Capitol and an Arkansas man who was photographed seated in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are among more than a dozen rioters charged so far by federal prosecutors as part of a far-ranging investigation into Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol, federal officials announced Friday.
Derrick Evans, a Republican member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, was charged with entering a restricted area on the Capitol grounds. Evans broadcast a Facebook Live video of himself breaking into the building with a crowd of rioters, at one point saying, “We’re in, we’re in, baby.” In an earlier video posted on Facebook, now deleted, Evans warned that the rioters would storm the building.
The West Virginia lawmaker’s participation in the riots has prompted calls for his resignation and drew criticism from the state governor.
Evans could not be immediately reached. But his lawyer, John Bryan, said in a statement to CNN on Thursday that "it wasn't apparent to Mr. Evans that he wasn't allowed to follow the crowd into this public area of the Capitol, inside which members of the public were already located."
Arkansas resident Richard Barnett’s photograph, showing him smirking and seated inside Pelosi’s office with his foot propped on a desk, became an iconic image of the rioting, the first mass attack on the U.S. Capitol in more than two centuries.
Barnett, 60, was arrested in Little Rock, Arkansas, Friday morning and charged with entering the speaker’s office, where he took an official envelope addressed to a congressman and left behind what he later described as a “nasty note,” federal officials said. He faces three counts: knowingly entering and remaining in restricted grounds; violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds; and theft of public money, property or records, according to court documents released Friday. Barnett, who faces up to one year in prison, is in custody in Arkansas awaiting extradition to Washington.
Barnett told a local television outlet in Arkansas on Thursday that he was looking for a bathroom when he came across the speaker’s office. He claimed that he bled on the envelope on Pelosi’s desk and took it while leaving a quarter as compensation.
The two men are among 13 people charged so far in federal court in the District of Columbia in connection with the rioting. The charges were filed Thursday and unsealed Friday. In addition, about 40 others were charged in the D.C. Superior Court, the majority of them for illegal entry and curfew violations.
Late Friday, Adam Johnson, a Florida resident seen in a viral photo carrying the House Speaker’s lectern through the Capitol, was arrested in Pinellas County, Florida, where he remains in custody on a U.S. Marshals warrant, according to jail records. The charges against Johnson were not known.
Among those charged in federal court, Lonnie Coffman, a 70-year-old Alabama resident, was charged with possession of an unregistered firearm and carrying a pistol without a license. Inside his truck parked behind the Capitol, police on Wednesday found 11 Molotov cocktails that an official said “would essentially constitute homemade napalm.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray said that the charges announced so far “are just the beginning of the FBI’s ongoing efforts to hold those responsible” for Wednesday’s riots accountable.
“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,” Wray said in a statement.
Ken Kohl, the first assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, said the Justice Department has assigned hundreds of prosecutors and agents to what he described as an active, fluid, 24/7 investigation. Working out of three command centers, the investigators are combing surveillance videos and social media images to identify and track down the rioters.
“The department will spare no resources in our efforts to hold all of these people accountable, and it's going to be something that we'll be continuing to work on in the coming hours, days and weeks as we pursue this investigation,” Kohl told reporters on a press call.
The rioting and looting erupted Wednesday afternoon, when hundreds of supporters of President Donald Trump, angry over Trump’s loss to Joe Biden in the November 3 election, forced their way into the building that contains the House and Senate while lawmakers were meeting in a joint session to certify Biden’s victory.
In a video released late Thursday, Trump condemned the violence and called for healing. Before that, however, for weeks he falsely claimed that he won the election in a landslide but was robbed of his victory – a claim believed by many of his followers. During a rally near the White House on Wednesday, Trump urged thousands of his supporters to march to the Capitol to protest the election results.
The subsequent violence, which left five dead including a Capitol Police officer, temporarily halted the certification process. Lawmakers reconvened later in the evening to certify Biden as the next president of the United States and Kamala Harris as the next vice president.
Law enforcement officials said they were investigating the circumstances leading up to the officer's death but would not say whether they were pursuing a murder case.
Trump was widely condemned for inciting the violence by encouraging his supporters to march on the Capitol and demand that members of Congress declare him the victor of the presidential election. In a rare rebuke, former Attorney General William Barr, a staunch Trump ally while in office, said in a statement Thursday that the president's conduct "was a betrayal to his office and supporters."
Asked if federal prosecutors were examining Trump's role in inciting the violent assault on the Capitol, Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, told reporters Thursday, "We're looking at all actors here, and anyone that had a role and the evidence fits the elements of a crime, they're going to be charged."
Just how many people will ultimately face charges remains uncertain. The Capitol Police force has said thousands were involved in riotous acts, with hundreds overrunning the building. However, with Capitol Police letting nearly everyone walk free, federal investigators are now facing the daunting task of tracking them down across the country.
Kohl said investigators have yet to determine how many people traveled to Washington to take part in the attack on the Capitol and the extent to which it was a coordinated act.
“We're not going to know that until we get to the end of the investigation,” he said.