Prosecutors Charge Man With Firing Shots Outside the Capitol on Jan. 6

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A Trump supporter who prosecutors say fired a pistol into the air on the grounds of the Capitol as a mob stormed the building on Jan. 6, 2021, was charged on Friday with firearm offenses, trespassing and interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder.

The man, John Banuelos, fired at least two shots into the air while standing above the crowd on scaffolding on the west side of the Capitol, according to a criminal complaint unsealed in Federal District Court in Washington. It does not appear that Mr. Banuelos entered the Capitol. But before the shots were fired, prosecutors say, he posed for a photo wearing a “Trump 2020” cowboy hat and showing off a pistol tucked into his waistband.

One of the most persistent lies about the Capitol attack — often made by Republican politicians and right-wing media figures — is that none of the hundreds of rioters who stormed the building had guns. On Thursday night, former President Donald J. Trump repeated the false claim on social media while responding to remarks about Jan. 6 that President Biden had made during his State of the Union address.

“The so-called ‘Insurrectionists’ that he talks about had no guns,” Mr. Trump wrote. “They only had a Rigged Election.”

But the Justice Department’s sprawling investigation of Jan. 6 has revealed that several people at the Capitol were carrying firearms that day. Altogether, more than 1,300 rioters have been charged in connection with the attack and arrests continue almost daily.

Guy Wesley Reffitt, a militiaman from Texas, was wearing a pistol on his hip when he led a charge of rioters up a staircase on the west side of the Capitol, according to testimony at his trial — the first of dozens to have taken place in Washington connected to the events of Jan. 6. Mr. Reffitt was ultimately convicted of a gun charge and other felonies and was sentenced to more than seven years in prison.

Among the other rioters who were carrying firearms on Jan. 6 are Christopher Alberts, a former Virginia National Guard member who charged the police outside the Capitol with a loaded 9-millimeter pistol, prosecutors say. Mr. Alberts was convicted of multiple felony charges and sentenced to seven years in prison.

A rioter named Mark Mazza brought two guns to the Capitol — a .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol and a Taurus revolver loaded with shotgun shells and hollow-point bullets, prosecutors say. Mr. Mazza was sentenced to five years in prison.

Prosecutors did not identify what type of pistol Mr. Banuelos was carrying on Jan. 6, but they said in their complaint that he was not licensed to have it. Among the charges he faces are carrying and discharging a firearm on the Capitol grounds.

After firing the shots, prosecutors said, Mr. Banuelos slipped the weapon back into his waistband, climbed down from the scaffolding and rejoined the crowd.



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