A New Mexico county official was arrested Sunday after federal authorities said he entered a restricted section of the U.S. Capitol during the deadly pro-Trump incursion and led rioters in prayer.
Couy Griffin, an Otero County commissioner and founder of Cowboys for Trump, was arrested in Washington. D.C., and faces a single charge of knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building without lawful authority, a federal criminal complaint said.
In an affidavit, a Metropolitan Police detective said a Cowboys for Trump videographer told authorities that after he and Griffin saw the group push past security barriers, they scaled the Capitol building’s wall before making their way to an outside deck.
There, Griffin used a bullhorn to lead the group in prayer, the document states.
In a video cited by the affidavit, Griffin also told the crowd that it was a “great day for America” and that “people are showing that they’ve had enough.”
“People are ready for fair and legal elections, or this what you’re going to get,” he said, according to the affidavit.
In a Facebook post on the Cowboys for Trump page, Griffin later said he planned to return to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20 for a possible “2nd Amendment rally” that would include “blood running out of that building,” the affidavit says.
At a Jan. 14 Otero County meeting, Griffin told other officials that he planned on taking a rifle and a revolver when he returned to Washington, according to the affidavit.
Additional information about Griffin’s arrest was not detailed in the document, and it wasn’t clear whether he had retained a lawyer. A message left with Cowboys for Trump was not immediately returned Sunday.
In an interview with police, Griffin said he had gotten “caught up” with the crowd and that authorities never asked him to leave, according to the affidavit.
He told authorities he left the area peacefully and hoped there could be a change in leadership “without a single shot being fired.” He added that there’s “no option that’s off the table for the sake of freedom,” the affidavit says.
Dozens of people have been arrested and charged for allegedly participating in the Capitol takeover, including a Kentucky man who was taken into custody Sunday for appearing to use a rolled-up Trump flag to smash a window in the Speaker’s Lobby, which leads to the House chamber, according to an affidavit filed in federal district court in Washington.
Chad Barrett Jones faces charges of assault on a federal officer, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and other crimes. It was unclear Sunday if Jones had a lawyer.
Court documents said Jones was arrested when a relative contacted authorities after seeing him in news coverage.
Authorities still have hundreds of other open cases linked to the riot, in which five people died, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. The FBI released photos Sunday of seven men it said assaulted a Washington police officer.
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