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A protester from Arkansas who took part in storming the U.S. Capitol Building Wednesday and sat at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk has been arrested, reports said.
Federal authorities took Richard Barnett, 60, of Gravette, Ark., into custody Friday ahead of an expected court appearance. Justice Department officials said he will be extradited to Washington, D.C., Fox News reported.
Barnett went to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office in Bentonville and surrendered to FBI agents around 10 a.m. Authorities then executed a search warrant of his home, FBI officials told the network. As of Friday, he was being held in the Washington County jail.
The Justice Department has charged Barnett with violent entry and theft of public property, in addition to other alleged criminal acts. He also stands accused of taking a letter from Pelosi’s office to a Missouri congressman during the riot on Wednesday.
Photos that went viral online appear to show Barnett in Pelosi’s private office with his feet on her desk following a breach of the Capitol Building by at least hundreds of people, many believed to be supporters of President Donald Trump who attended a “Stop the Steal” rally earlier in the day.
“The shocking images of Mr. Barnett with his boots up on a desk in the speaker of the House’s office on Wednesday was repulsive,” noted Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rose. “Those who are proven to have committed criminal acts during the storming of the Capitol will face justice.”
As for the letter, Barnett said he took it because he had bled on it.
“I did not steal it. I bled on it because they were macing me and I couldn’t (expletive) see so I figured I am in her office,” Barnett reportedly told an investigator from the Capitol Police.
Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.), who represents the district where Barnett lives, said what he allegedly did was an “embarrassment” while also calling for him to be prosecuted.
“I’m sickened to learn that the below actions were perpetrated by a constituent. It’s an embarrassment to the people of the Third District and does not reflect our values,” he wrote on Twitter.
I'm sickened to learn that the below actions were perpetrated by a constituent. It's an embarrassment to the people of the Third District and does not reflect our values. He must be held accountable and face the fullest extent of the law. This isn't the American or Arkansas way. https://t.co/kSsA6LxdM8
— Rep. Steve Womack (@rep_stevewomack) January 7, 2021
“He must be held accountable and face the fullest extent of the law. This isn’t the American or Arkansas way.”
Fox News reported that federal and Capitol Police investigators identified Barnett from viral photos as well as records from law enforcement databases and the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Retired Army Lt. Col. Jim Parsons, a former Green Beret special operations officer who served in Vietnam, told The Associated Press he was featured as a guest speaker at some “patriotic gatherings” that were attended by Barnett.
At one, Parsons said that Barnett carried an AR-15 rifle “to make sure things stay peaceful.”
Parsons also said that a group Barnett belongs to thinks “a face mask is a dress rehearsal for what’s to come” and that people will “end up with a chip in the forehead.”
So far, according to Fox News, authorities have charged at least a dozen others in federal court in relation to actions allegedly taken during the Capitol Building breach which occurred as a joint session of Congress had assembled to count Electoral College ballots.
Five people died as a result of the rioting. Ashli Bobbitt, an unarmed Air Force veteran, was shot by police while inside the building and died later at a hospital. Also, Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, 42, died Thursday from injuries sustained in the melee.
Three other people involved in the breach reportedly died from various medical conditions.
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