Man charged for beating officer with pole of American flag during Capitol riot, prosecutors say
WASHINGTON - An Arkansas man has been charged by federal prosecutors after FBI agents identified him in several videos that appear to show him beating a police officer with the pole of an American flag during the violent Jan. 6 pro-Trump Capitol riot that resulted in the deaths of five people.
According to court papers released Thursday, Peter Francis Stager was identified in several videos that allegedly appear to show him participating in the violent insurrection that occurred at the U.S. Capitol.
In one video, Stager can allegedly be seen attacking a police officer identified only as B.M., the criminal arrest warrant says.
FBI agents interviewed a close associate of Stager, who said Stager believed he was striking an Antifa activist. But the affidavit states that Stager "was able to see the police markings" on the uniform of the officer he struck.
One photograph shows the anonymous officer lying face down, appearing to be unconscious after the attack, while several rioters, including Stager, stand by, according to the FBI.
According to the affidavit of FBI special agent Jason Coe, the officer was guarding an entrance of the U.S. Capitol when members of the pro-Trump mob grabbed him and dragged him down a set of stairs.
Coe wrote that an FBI informant notified the agency that they recognized Stager in several videos posted on social media.
In the affidavit, the FBI cited Twitter user Cleavon MD who posted videos of the incident, which the agency used as evidence against Stager.
One video posted by Cleavon MD allegedly showed Stager talking into the camera saying, "Everybody in there is a treasonous traitor. Death is the only remedy for what’s in that building."
According to the document, Stager said he had intended on turning himself in to law enforcement for his actions.
Several others pictured on social media during the violent pro-Trump riot have been arrested, including a Delaware man seen holding a Confederate flag inside the Capitol building and a Florida man dubbed the "lectern guy" after a Getty photograph showed him smiling and waving while hauling the House speaker’s lectern.
Stager’s arrest is part of an ongoing effort by police to capture and charge those involved in the deadly Capitol riots.
A vast number of photos and videos captured the violence and by Saturday, Jan. 9 just a few days after the deadly attacks, prosecutors had filed 17 cases in federal district court and 40 others in the District of Columbia Superior Court for a variety of offenses ranging from assaulting police officers to entering restricted areas of the U.S. Capitol, stealing federal property and threatening lawmakers.
Richard Barnett, 60, of Gravette, Arkansas, appeared in a photo taken during the riot, which showed him inside House Speaker Nancy' Pelosi's private office, draping his leg across her desk. By Tuesday, Barnett was appearing in federal court.
Barnett told KFSM he was looking for the bathroom when he saw the door to Pelosi’s office was open.
"I sat down here in my desk. I’m a taxpayer. I’m a patriot. That ain’t her desk — we loaned her that desk," he reportedly said.
"And she ain’t appreciating the desk, so I thought I would sit down and appreciate the desk."
RELATED: Richard Barnett, Arkansas man pictured in Pelosi’s chair amid Capitol riot, faces 11 years in prison
Barnett was arrested in Arkansas. He is also is charged with disorderly conduct and theft of public property. If convicted on all charges, including the new lethal weapon count, he could be sentenced to more than 11 years in federal prison.
The Justice Department has created a specialized strike force to examine the possibility of sedition charges. Officials said they were utilizing some of the same techniques in the riot probe as they use in international counterterrorism investigations, examining the money flow and movement of defendants leading up to the breach.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, called for the rioters to be added to a no-fly list, a tool most commonly applied in foreign terror cases.
According to the federal affidavit, Stager faces charges under Section 231 of Title 18 which states that anyone "who commits or attempts to commit any act to obstruct, impede, or interfere with any fireman or law enforcement officer lawfully engaged in the lawful performance of his official duties," and faces up to five years in prison, according to Cornell Law.
The Associated Press contributed to this story. This story was reported from Los Angeles.