55 charged in Capitol breach; public emergency extended

Supporters of President Donald Trump riot against the Electoral College vote count on Wednesday in protest of Trump's loss to President-elect Joe Biden, prompting a lockdown of the Capitol Building. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI

Jan. 7 (UPI) — At least 55 people were charged Thursday with crimes following a siege by Trump supporters on the U.S. Capitol as Congress certified the results of the presidential election.

Many of those charged in the riot that saw supporters of President Donald Trump have free reign on the Senate floor and in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi‘s office faced charges such as unlawful entry, while others were charged with crimes such as assault.

Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., said at a news conference Thursday that more charges were expected in the coming weeks.

“That’s a good start, but in no regard is this the end,” he said.

Sherwin added that “all charges” are on the table including insurrection and rioting, even suggesting Trump himself may face scrutiny for a rally he held before his supporters breached the Capitol.

“Anyone that had a role, and the evidence fits the elements of a crime, they’re going to be charged,” he said.

Among those charged Thursday, were Mark Leffingwell, who faces three counts after being accused of attacking an officer at the scene and Christopher Alberts who was charged with one count of carrying or having access to firearms or ammunition on U.S. Capitol grounds.

Capitol Police officer Daniel Amendola said that Leffingwell, 51, punched him “repeatedly with a closed fist” in his police helmet and chest during an attempt to push his way into the building.

Alberts, of Maryland, was seen wearing a bulletproof vest and attempted to flee an officer who identified a bulge on his hip. After he was apprehended, officers found he was in possession of a black Taurus G2C 9mm handgun and a magazine of ammunition.

During the siege, one officer discharged their weapon, striking a woman who was transported to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead. The woman was identified as Ashli Babbitt, of Ocean Beach, Calif.

A man and two women in the area of the Capitol grounds also died Wednesday due to medical emergencies, Capitol Police said.

At least 14 officers were injured during the day, including two who were hospitalized, one with facial injuries from being struck with a projectile and the other who sustained serious injuries when they were pulled into a crowd and assaulted, the police chief said.

Police also recovered two pipe bombs, one from the Democratic National Committee headquarters and one from the Republican National Committee headquarters, as well as a cooler in a vehicle on Capitol grounds that contained molotov cocktails, he said.

Washington, D.C., Muriel Bowser announced a 15-day emergency order extension during a news conference late Wednesday, stating it will run through the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Jan. 20 to ensure peace and security in the city.

The mayor described the siege as “an unprecedented attack” on U.S. democracy incited by Trump.

Bowser said police will be issuing alerts to the public to be on the lookout for those who stormed the building.

“Some of them have to be held accountable for the carnage,” she said.

Asked if the breach of the Capitol building was the result of police failure, Bowser said there will be time later to assess what happened but right now they are focused on ensuring Congress proceedings, which restarted around 8 p.m., continue and the city is safe.

“We will continue to focus because clearly, we will have more events at the Capitol and we want to make sure every lesson learned from this one is implemented,” she said.


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