Retired Chicago firefighter charged in ‘Tunnel’ siege during Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot

Joseph Pavlik is charged with obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, and disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds.

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According to the FBI, this picture shows Joseph Pavlik of Chicago outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The FBI alleges this picture depicts Joseph Pavlik of Chicago outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

U.S. District Court records

A retired Chicago firefighter with apparent ties to militia groups faces federal criminal charges for allegedly participating in an hourslong siege amid the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Joseph Pavlik, 65, is charged with obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, and disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds.

Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford confirmed that Pavlik joined the department in 1981 and retired in 2013. Pavlik is now among at least 36 Illinois residents charged in connection with the Capitol riot.

Federal authorities allege Pavlik is associated with a group known as “B Squad,” a subgroup of a militia-style, Florida-based organization known as the “Guardians of Freedom.” Pavlik allegedly traveled to Washington, D.C., and stayed in a hotel in January 2021 with other “B Squad” members.

An FBI special agent wrote that Pavlik and other “B Squad” members — who face separate criminal charges — joined rioters who spent more than two hours assaulting officers as the rioters tried to force their way through an area known as “The Tunnel.”

The area was part of the inaugural stage that had been erected at the Capitol. Some members of Congress had been sheltering in place near the entrance on the other end, court records show.

Pavlik appeared to push on the police line and was caught on video struggling with officers, according to the FBI agent.

When investigators interviewed Pavlik in August, the FBI agent said Pavlik claimed he was pushed by the crowd into the police line but kept his hands up to show he was not a threat.

During a second interview in October, Pavlik said he only wanted to talk to officers and let them know he meant no harm. He allegedly said he got stuck in The Tunnel and asked a police officer to arrest him so he could leave safely.

But the feds say Pavlik appears to have multiple links to militia groups, and his telephone number was listed on an Oath Keepers roster from 2009 to 2015. Members of the Oath Keepers have been convicted on seditious conspiracy charges stemming from the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Authorities also identified several comments Pavlik allegedly made on social media in the weeks leading up to the riot, including a Dec. 14, 2020, post that read, “These are now indoctrinated terrorists that have made a conscious choice to ruin America … the sooner it is taken to a serious level to remove these terrorists the sooner these terrorists climb back into their basements … only until their bodies hit the ground will the terrorism stop.”

Pavlik also allegedly wrote on Dec. 26, 2020, that, “WE ARE THE STORM THAT THE DEMOCRATS AND RINOS THOUGHT WOULD NEVER SHOW UP and we are just getting started.”

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