US prosecutors file first charges after Capitol riot

US prosecutors file first charges after Capitol riot

A man who allegedly stuffed his pick-up truck with Molotov cocktails full of “home-made napalm” is among the first wave of Trump supporters to face federal charges connected to the violent attack on the US Capitol earlier this week, the Department of Justice has said.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, prosecutors from the US attorney’s office for the District of Columbia and representatives from the FBI said 13 people had so far had been charged in federal court, adding that “hundreds of prosecutors and agents” were working on a “24/7” operation.

The indictments, which included charges for carrying illegal firearms and Molotov cocktails, a type of crude homemade grenade, underlined the violent nature of the politically charged riots in which five people died.

Those named by justice department officials included Lonnie Coffman from Alabama, who was found carrying two handguns by police when apprehended. Police officers also found a truck with Alabama license plates registered to Mr Coffman, which contained an M4 carbine assault rifle and 11 Molotov cocktails full of an explosive substance. 

Richard Barnett, who is alleged to be the man seen sitting with his feet on House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk in widely circulated photographs, was arrested in Little Rock, Arkansas, and charged with entering and remaining on restricted grounds, violent entry, disorderly conduct and theft of public property. 

Another man, Mark Leffingwell, was charged after allegedly punching a police officer, while Christopher Alberts, from Maryland, was charged with entering the Capitol building in possession of a loaded 9mm handgun.

Several others were charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct. The Department of Justice said a further 40 individuals had been arrested and charged in Washington’s Superior Court for offences including unlawful entry, curfew violations, and firearms-related crimes.

The justice department and FBI said they were jointly investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of US Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick, who was wounded while attempting to push back rioters who breached police lines.

Federal and local authorities have raced to investigate the dramatic events on Wednesday, which saw Capitol Police overwhelmed by rioters who pushed and fought their way into the complex.

The charges are the first wave of what is expected to be a large number of federal charges against individuals involved in storming the Capitol.

Michael Sherwin, the acting US attorney for the District of Columbia, said on Thursday his office would probably continue to charge participants for much of the year. 

He added that charges including sedition, insurrection and rioting were “on the table” but that the initial complaints had charged more minor crimes such as unauthorised entry, which could be processed more quickly.

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