Man identified as speaker’s office invader appears before judge

13 January 2021, 01:54

This undated photo provided by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office shows Arkansas resident Richard Barnett
Capitol Breach Speaker’s Office. Picture: PA

Richard Barnett, 60, turned himself in to FBI agents on Friday.

The man identified as the rioter photographed sitting in House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office chair during last week’s Capitol insurrection made his initial federal court appearance on Tuesday.

Richard Barnett, 60, of Gravette, Arkansas, appeared before US magistrate judge Erin Wiedemann in Fayetteville, Arkansas, to hear the charges against him.

Among them is a charge that he unlawfully entered a restricted area with a lethal weapon — in this case, a stun gun.

Mr Barnett is also charged with disorderly conduct and theft of public property. If convicted on all charges, including the new lethal weapon count, he could be sentenced to more than 11 years in federal prison.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi
House speaker Nancy Pelosi (Erin Scott/Pool via AP)

Mr Barnett has conceded the validity of the charges against him, said his attorney, Anthony Siano. Mr Siano offered no further comment.

Mr Barnett will remain in federal custody at the Washington County Detention Centre in Fayetteville pending a virtual detention hearing on Friday, at which time a judge will decide whether to grant him bond.

He surrendered himself voluntarily to FBI agents on Friday at the Benton County Sheriff’s Office in Bentonville, Arkansas, and has remained in the Washington County jail since then.

Congress Electoral College
Five people died because of the events at the Capitol (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Authorities say Mr Barnett was among the supporters of President Trump who stormed the Capitol on Wednesday. Five people died because of the protest and violence, including a Capitol police officer.

Authorities said in court documents that they were able to identify Mr Barnett in part through photographs taken by news media when he was inside the building.

They also used video surveillance from inside the Capitol and a video interview Mr Barnett gave to a New York Times reporter.

Mr Barnett is from Gravette in northwest Arkansas. He has identified himself on social media as a Trump supporter and gun rights advocate.

By Press Association