A QAnon adherent from Illinois seen on video shoving National Guardsmen at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 has pleaded guilty to a felony.
Mathew Capsel, 29, admitted Friday that he pushed against members of the National Guard who had been called in to D.C. to support the effort to control the riotous crowd of Donald Trump supporters who descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6, angry over Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election.
The confrontation happened at around 6:15 p.m., hours after rioters had forced their way into the Capitol, causing Congress to temporarily halt its certification of the Electoral College vote and forcing lawmakers and Capitol staffers to either evacuate or shelter in place.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan, a Barack Obama-appointed judge who generally takes an especially deliberate and measured approach to the plea colloquy, sought to make sure that Capsel knew what he was doing that day at the Capitol.
“At the time you [pushed against the National Guard], did you know that the officers were engaged in the performance of their official duty?” the judge asked.
Capsel paused briefly before answering.
“At the time, I was caught up in the energy, but now, yeah, I do know,” the defendant replied.
Chutkan pressed Capsel, seeking clarification of what he knew at the time he committed the offense.
“At the time that you did so,” Chutkan repeated,” did you know that they were acting as law enforcement officers?”
“Yes ma’am,” Capsel replied.
Chutkan then asked Capsel if he admitted that pushing against the National Guard officers obstructed, delayed, or adversely affected their ability to engage in the lawful performance of their duties during the commission of a civil disorder.
Capsel again paused before answering.
“Yes ma’am,” he ultimately said.
Chutkan accepted Caspel’s guilty plea to a single charge of obstructing, impeding, or interfering with law enforcement lawfully engaged in the performance of official duties during a civil disorder. That statute carries a potential sentence of five years behind bars; the plea agreement contemplates a sentence range of 27 to 33 months.
He had also been charged with assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers, a felony that carries a potential eight-year prison sentence, and misdemeanor trespassing that carried a maximum one-year sentence. Those charges are expected to be dismissed at his sentencing, which Chutkan set for Dec. 16.
Capsel’s altercation with National Guard officers was shared to TikTok and formed a key component of the FBI’s probable cause affidavit.
“In this video, Capsel, identifiable by the tattoos on his face and neck, and wearing the same hat, shirt, and necklace, is fighting against National Guardsmen until he is pepper sprayed, as shown in the last screenshot,” the probable cause affidavit says. “Specifically, the video depicts Capsel charging against a lined group of National Guardsmen, running into their protective shields.”
As Law&Crime previously reported, Capsel’s social media posts reflect a strong adherence to conspiracy theories linked to the far-right and QAnon.
Prosecutors say that hours before confronting the National Guardsmen on the west side of the Capitol, he was among rioters at the Lower West Terrace of the Capitol. Between 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m., he posted videos to social media in which he allegedly said “Hold the line, don’t run.”
He also joined a mob of rioters on the steps to bleachers set up for the upcoming inauguration and overtook police officers trying to secure the area, the DOJ says.
Capsel had been accused of domestic battery in his home state, and reportedly missed a court appearance in that case to join the melee at the Capitol.
Chutkan noted that Capsel has complied with the conditions of his pre-trial release, and did not order him back into custody pending sentencing.
[Images via FBI court filing.]
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