Feds accuse 3 Ohio men of illegally entering U.S. Capitol

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Three more Ohioans have been charged with illegally entering the U.S. Capitol as part of a mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump, including one man accused of stealing a coat rack while he was in the building.

In northeastern Ohio, the FBI on Monday arrested Stephen Ayres for breaching the Capitol based on Facebook posts he made before, during and after Jan. 6 and an identification by an unnamed family member.

Ayres and an unnamed man in a video posted to Facebook discuss how police escorted them from one end of the Capitol to the other, according to a criminal complaint.

Police “basically let everyone walk in,” Ayres said in the video, according to the complaint.

Ayres says in the live video that the Capitol breach “was just the beginning” and there was “more to come next week.”

According to the affidavit, authorities reviewed surveillance footage from inside the Capitol and were able to identify both the man and Ayres inside the lobby of the building’s Senate wing.

Ayres was arrested on preliminary charges of obstruction of justice, illegally entering the capital and violent and disorderly conduct on Capitol Grounds. A message was left with his attorney seeking comment.

In central Ohio, Dustin Thompson and Robert Lyon also face preliminary charges of illegally entering the Capitol and violent and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Thompson is also accused of stealing the coat rack.

Thompson was inspired by lies about election fraud told by Trump and his backers, said his attorney, Sam Shamanksy. He said his client is an Ohio State University graduate who repairs furniture for a living.

“Trump and people that supported his presidency would stop at absolutely nothing to keep him in power,” said Shamansky, who didn’t dispute his client’s involvement based on video evidence. “The lie that was perpetuated endlessly by Trump and also members of the media that were willing to support him had its desired effect — it sowed dissension, it caused people to behave in ways that were just unimaginable.”

Lyon’s public defender declined comment. Federal magistrate Judge Chelsey Vascura released both Thompson and Lyon on their own recognizance without posting bail following a short hearing. They weren’t required to enter a plea.

Both must surrender their passports and can’t travel out of Ohio unless it’s to Washington, D.C., and then only for appearing in court, where their case will be prosecuted.

Thompson faces up to 2 1/2 years in prison if convicted, and Lyon faces up to 18 months in prison if convicted.

Lyon told FBI agents the two drove to Washington together and that it was Thompson’s idea to go. The two had known each other for a few years and had met at a university, according to an FBI affidavit detailing the alleged crimes.

Lyon initially said they became separated when they arrived at the Capitol. Lyon told investigators he was not inside the Capitol, but security images show that he was, according to the affidavit.

In one video taken inside the Capitol, Thompson yelled, “Wooooo! ’Merica Hey! This is our house!” the FBI said.

Other video shows Thompson entering the Capitol, going into an office, then leaving the Capitol a few minutes later holding a bottle of bourbon. Video then shows Thompson returning to the Capitol with Lyon, entering the office again, and then leaving with the coat rack, the affidavit said.

After the riot, two Capitol police officers came across Thompson, who was wearing a Trump 2020 hat and a bullet proof vest, and Lyon, who had a Trump 2020 flag, according to the FBI.

Thompson ran away but Lyon stayed and cooperated, the affidavit said. The FBI interviewed Lyon at his house in Columbus on Jan. 11.

Authorities have charged several other Ohioans with breaching the Capitol, among them Donovan Crowl and Jessica Watkins of Champaign County and Cleveland school occupational therapist Christine Priola.

___

Gillispie reported from Cleveland.

Copyright © 2021 . All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Comments

Sign up for breaking news alerts