A Proud Boys member has been accused of leading the attack at the US Capitol after he was allegedly seen smashing a window that allowed the mob of rioters to storm the building.
Dominic Pezzola, 43, was indicted Friday alongside fellow Proud Boys member William Pepe, 31 on charges including conspiracy, civil disorder and unlawfully entering restricted buildings or grounds.
Pezzola was also hit with additional charges including obstruction of an official proceeding, robbery of personal property of the United States, and assaulting, resisting or impeding officers, the Justice Department said.
The prosecution court filing, citing social media posts, said Pezzola was one of the first rioters to enter the Capitol by using a police shield to break a window and allowing the rest of the mob to enter the building.
‘Pezzola was not the only person trying to break windows and forcibly enter the Capitol at that time, but he appears . . . first to breach a window so successfully that he and other rioters could enter the Capitol through it,’ Assistant U.S. Attorney Erik Kenerson said.
‘The defendant’s actions show planning, determination, and coordination.’
Dominic Pezzola, 43, (pictured) was one of the first rioters to enter the Capitol by using a police shield to break a window and allowing the rest of the mob to enter the building, prosecutors said
Fellow Proud Boys member William Pepe (pictured) 31, was also indicted on charges including conspiracy, civil disorder and unlawfully entering restricted buildings or grounds
Dominic Pezzola is pictured marching in support of Trump in Washington, DC, on December 12,
Once inside the Capitol, Pezzola chased a police officer up the stairs near the entrance to the Senate chamber, and smoked a cigar while bragging on video about the attack, prosecutors said.
Pezzola and Pepe are also accused of taking actions to ‘evade and render ineffective’ equipment deployed by Capitol Police during the chaos, including removing metal barricades and stealing police property.
Prosecutors Pezzola say also allegedly ripped away an officer’s riot shield and was later seen on video that has been widely distributed, using it to smash a window.
The indictment revealed Pezzola also allegedly had ‘weapons- and bomb-making manuals’ on a thumb drive device found within his home near Rochester, New York.
Pezzola, known as ‘Spaz’ to associates, poses a ‘serious danger to the community and a serious risk of flight,’ the prosecution brief stated.
A lawyer for Pezzola, Mike Scibetta, said in an email that, to his knowledge, the thumb drive was given to Pezzola, was never opened by him, and contained a ‘survivalist’ manual.
More than 135 people have been arrested so far in connection with the violent insurrection that left five people dead including a police officer.
Separately, the FBI on Friday said bombs found at the Capitol Hill headquarters of the Democratic and Republican National Committees were placed there the evening before the attack.
Washington remains under heighten security three weeks after the attack on the Capitol
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited National Guard troops deployed at the U.S. Capitol and its perimeter on Friday
More than 30 lawmakers signed a letter on Thursday calling for greater protection in their districts, citing threats
Washington D.C. has remained under tight security in the weeks after the violent siege, with thousands of National Guard troops patrolling the streets.
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said lawmakers would also probably need more funding for security as the ‘the enemy is within’ the House, following a warning by the Department of Homeland Security of heightened threats.
Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman on Thursday also urged lawmakers to install a permanent perimeter fence around the Capitol in a proposal that drew criticism.
‘I can unequivocally say that vast improvements to the physical security infrastructure must be made to include permanent fencing, and the availability of ready, back-up forces in close proximity to the Capitol,’ Pittman said.
The permanent fencing suggestion however, was panned by Republicans as well as some Democrats.
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., said she was ‘adamantly opposed’ and had heard no justification for its need.
First-term Rep. Jake Auchincloss, D-Mass., a former Marine, said it would be wrong to turn the Capitol into a ‘fortress.’
‘DC does not support it,’ said Councilmember Charles Allen, whose district includes the Capitol Hill neighborhood.
An eight-foot tall steel fence topped with concertina razor wire was erected around the US Capitol following the violent siege on January 6
Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman on Thursday urged US lawmakers to add permanent fencing
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, told CNN it was ‘premature to determine what are the appropriate steps that need to be taken to better secure the Capitol.’
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser wrote on Twitter that ‘we will not accept extra troops or permanent fencing as a long-term fixture in DC,’ but said ‘potentially volatile events’ would require temporary extra security.
The Department of Homeland Security did not cite specific threats in its bulletin, which was issued Wednesday, but said some ‘domestic violent extremists’ may feel emboldened by the Capitol rampage.
‘We will probably need a supplemental for more security for members, when the enemy is within the House of Representatives,’ Pelosi said.
Asked what she meant when referring to the ‘enemy within,’ Pelosi said: ‘It means we have members of Congress who want to bring guns on the floor and who have threatened violence against other members of Congress.’
Pro-Trump protesters storm into the U.S. Capitol during clashes with police, during a rally to contest the certification of presidential election results by on January 6
More than 135 people have been arrested so far in connection with the violent insurrection that left five people dead including a police officer
More than 30 lawmakers signed a letter on Thursday calling for greater protection in their districts, noting that threats against members of Congress spiked to 4,894 in 2018 from 902 in 2016.
While top members of Congress have security details, most lawmakers do not.
Most changes members sought, including allowing them more flexibility in using their office budgets to cover security expenses, had already been made, Pelosi said. She said that more probably needed to be done.
Ahead of Biden’s January 20 inauguration, 8-foot-high fencing went up around the Capitol building and more than 20,000 National Guard troops descended on Washington. Thousands of the troops are expected to stay in the capital through March.
Some lawmakers have bristled under the increased security measures, such as a metal detector put in place for lawmakers to go through on the House floor.
Earlier this month, the HuffPost website reported that Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., set off a newly installed metal detector while trying to enter the House chamber and was found to be carrying a concealed gun.
Other Republicans have also talked about carrying firearms, which lawmakers are permitted to do, though not on the House or Senate floors.