In First, US Hits Jan. 6 Defendant With Little-Used Firearms Charge
Federal prosecutors have applied a little-used law against a man accused of obstructing the congressional proceedings on Jan. 6, asserting he transported a gun and used it in furtherance of a civil disorder.
In a superseding indictment (pdf) against Guy Reffitt released this week, the Texas man was charged with two violations of federal civil disorder law for actions allegedly taken in Washington on Jan. 6.
Authorities said Reffitt violated the law against transporting “any firearm, or explosive or incendiary device, knowing or having reason to know or intending that the same will be used unlawfully in furtherance of a civil disorder.”
He is also accused of violating the portion of the law that fines or imprisons anyone who “commits or attempts to commit” an act to interfere with a law enforcement officer during a civil disorder to charges.
Both counts carry prison sentences of up to five years.
The counts were added on top of three previous charges: obstruction of an official proceeding, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, and obstruction of justice. He already faced 51 years in jail. One of the three charges, though, was elevated because Reffitt is believed to have had a gun with him when he allegedly committed the crimes outside the U.S. Capitol.
In total, Reffitt now faces 70 years in prison.
The defendant’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.
According to the Department of Justice website listing those charged in the Capitol breach, no other person has been hit with the firearms charge. However, over 100 others have been charged with civil disorder.
Reffitt was arrested on Jan. 18 and pleaded not guilty two months later. He remains in jail. A motion hearing in his case is scheduled for July 14.
Reffitt told FBI agents that he did not enter the Capitol, according to court documents. He also said that he took a Smith & Wesson pistol with him but disassembled it to comply with Washington law.
However, according to his son, Reffitt went to the U.S. Capitol and took his gun with him. The son told agents that, according to his dad, “we stormed the Capitol.”
Reffitt allegedly threatened his son and daughter, warning them not to talk to the authorities, before his arrest.
Reffitt was identified as commenting on the website for Texas Freedom Force, a militia, and linked to the “3-percenters,” a loose collection of groups that are generally anti-government, according to his spouse.
Only one gunshot was fired at the Capitol on Jan. 6, by a law enforcement officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt, an unarmed woman who was attempting to climb into a hallway adjacent to the House chamber. Few people are believed to have carried guns inside the building. But authorities have slowly pressed firearms charges against some of those allegedly participating in the tumult.
Lonnie Coffman, an Alabama man, was charged with unlawful possession of several guns and eleven Molotov cocktails after authorities found the items in a vehicle he owned near the National Republican Club and the Democratic National Committee headquarters.
Christopher Alberts of Maryland was accused of carrying a semi-automatic handgun when he was encountered outside the Capitol by a member of the U.S. Capitol Police’s Civil Disturbance Unit. The member wrote in a court document that after detaining Alberts, a black semi-automatic handgun was found, in addition to a spare magazine and a bulletproof vest.
And Cleveland Meredith Jr., a Georgia resident, allegedly had two guns with him when he was arrested at a Holiday Inn on C Street on Jan. 7. Authorities said that Meredith had talked in text messages about killing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).