More charges in Capitol riot include man at Pelosi’s desk, another with 11 Molotov cocktails
An Illinois man who allegedly refused to leave the U.S. Capitol is also now among those facing federal charges.
Federal prosecutors on Friday charged an Arkansas man they said broke into Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, an Alabama man allegedly caught with 11 Molotov cocktail mixtures likened to napalm, and an Illinois man accused of refusing to leave the U.S. Capitol.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said those charges “are just the beginning of the FBI’s ongoing efforts to hold those responsible for the criminal acts of violence and destruction that unfolded during the U.S. Capitol building breach.”
Richard Barnett, 60, of Arkansas has become one of the most notorious figures among those who broke into the Capitol Wednesday, after photographs surfaced of him with his feet on Pelosi’s desk. Prosecutors cited those photographs in a statement of facts filed as part of the case against him. They said they also viewed video surveillance and a video-recorded interview Barnett gave.
In that interview, they said Barnett was asked about an envelope he was holding featuring Pelosi’s signature. Barnett allegedly said, “I did not steal it. I bled on it because they were macing me and I couldn’t f---ing see so I figured I am in her office. I got blood on her office. I put a quarter on her desk even though she ain’t f---ing worth it. And I left her a note on her desk that says ‘Nancy, Bigo was here, you b----.’”
Jim Parsons, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who served in Vietnam as a Green Beret, told The Associated Press he has been a guest speaker at a couple of “patriotic gatherings” that Barnett also attended. Barnett had an AR-15 rifle with him “to make sure things stay peaceful,” Parsons said. He called Barnett “a good guy.”
One of the groups Barnett belongs to believes “a face mask is a dress rehearsal for what’s to come. … It’ll end up with a chip in the forehead,” Parsons said.
Federal prosecutors Friday also charged Lonnie Coffman, of Alabama. Police said they found 11 Molotov cocktails made from Mason jars in Coffman’s red GMC Sierra pickup truck during an investigative sweep by Capitol police following reports of explosive devices near the National Republican Club and the Democratic National Committee Headquarters.
Police stopped Coffman when he returned to his truck, and he allegedly told them the Mason jars contained “melted Styrofoam and gasoline.” An ATF officer said that combination “has the effect of napalm insofar as it causes the flammable liquid to better stick to objects that it hits upon detonation,” according to the feds.
Finally, the feds also said they filed charges against Illinois’ Bradley Rukstales. A document released by prosecutors Friday alleges Rukstales was discovered amid a crowd inside the U.S. Capitol that was making loud noises, kicking chairs, and throwing and spraying unknown substances at officers.
Officers at the Capitol had ordered members of the crowd to leave, but they responded by shouting and cursing at police, according to the document. Six people, including Rukstales, were near the front of the crowd and refused to leave, it alleged.
Late Thursday, Rukstales apologized in a statement. “In a moment of extremely poor judgment following the Jan. 6 rally in Washington, I followed hundreds of others through an open set of doors to the Capitol building to see what was taking place inside,” he said.
“My decision to enter the Capitol was wrong, and I am deeply regretful to have done so,” Rukstales said. “I condemn the violence and destruction that took place in Washington.”
Rukstales, of Inverness, was CEO of the Schaumburg tech firm Cogensia until Friday, when he was fired by the board.