A total of eight Utahns have been charged in connection with the riot at the U.S. Capitol in Washington a year ago on Jan. 6, 2021. (Samuel Corum, Getty Images)
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SALT LAKE CITY — One year ago, a mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to interfere with the certification of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States.
Since the Capitol insurrection, over 700 people across the United States have faced federal charges, with charges ranging from entering a restricted building to assaulting police or employees, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
As of Wednesday, a total of eight Utahns have been arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and only one has pleaded guilty. All of their charges are based at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Listed below are each of the eight Utah residents charged and the allegations they face.
The first Utahn arrested was Sandy resident John Sullivan, who was booked into the Tooele County Jail on Jan. 14 after he was taken into custody by FBI agents. Initial charging documents say Sullivan was in Washington to film the “Stop the Steal” rally earlier in the day, and he entered the Capitol to capture footage.
Among the events Sullivan captured on camera was the shooting of Ashli Babbitt, who was fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer as she tried to climb through a door into the speaker’s lobby. He was also interviewed by multiple news organizations, including CNN, after the riot. Court filings later showed NBC and CNN paid Sullivan $35,000 for his footage.
FBI agents obtained video of Sullivan saying he had a knife and was later heard yelling at police, “I want you to go home,” according to an affidavit.
Sullivan was originally charged with six counts, including obstructing an official proceeding and entering a restricted building. However, a superseding indictment filed later in the year charged Sullivan with carrying a weapon inside the building and lying to federal investigators. Federal law enforcement is also trying to seize over $90,000 from one of Sullivan’s bank accounts, as they believe Sullivan obtained that money in connection with his alleged criminal action.
On Tuesday, Sullivan pleaded not guilty in Washington’s federal court to the eight charges against him. His next hearing in the case is scheduled for March.
Sullivan also has ongoing criminal charges in Utah in connection with a protest in downtown Provo that resulted in a shooting in June 2020. Sullivan pleaded not guilty to charges of riot, a third-degree felony, and criminal mischief, a class B misdemeanor. He is slated to face a jury trial on those charges in April.
Michael Lee Hardin
Kaysville resident and former Salt Lake police officer Michael Hardin was arrested in April after two tipsters shared information with the FBI that led to Hardin being identified as an alleged rioter.
According to charging documents, one tipster described him as a “friend” and told the bureau that Hardin sent the tipster text messages that day stating, “We stormed the Capitol, I am in here now!” After learning of Hardin’s identity, FBI agents searched law enforcement databases and found he was a Kaysville resident and former police officer.
Days later, a second tipster sent the FBI a photo allegedly showing Hardin posing inside the U.S. Capitol with a bust of Abraham Lincoln in the Capitol Crypt. The tipster told the bureau that they got the photo from one of Hardin’s family members. Photos from inside the Capitol that day show Hardin in the building, according to the charges, and investigators later obtained GPS data from Google that showed a mobile device linked to Hardin’s email account was inside the Capitol during the riot.
Hardin faces four misdemeanor charges, including entering and remaining in a restricted building. His next court appearance is a plea agreement hearing set for Jan. 21.
St. George resident Brady Knowlton was the third Utahn arrested in connection with the attack. Charging documents show that an FBI agent interviewed a tipster in St. George who identified Knowlton in a Jan. 6 photograph of three men standing outside the Capitol.
Security cameras from inside the Capitol showed that same man moving throughout the building, appearing to be holding his phone with the camera out as he entered the building, the charges allege. Later, Knowlton can allegedly be seen holding out his phone while standing in the Senate Gallery.
Knowlton faces multiple charges, including violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building. Knowlton pleaded not guilty to all charges on Dec. 6. His next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 16.
FBI agents in Salt Lake City were notified that Willard Peart, of Toquerville, Washington County, had allegedly entered the Capitol during the riot and wanted to speak with agents. Peart and his attorney met with agents on Jan. 20, where Peart told them he had gone inside the building on that day, according to charging documents.
Security footage showed Peart move throughout the building, though the charges say Peart did not assault anyone or damage property while inside. Peart also provided his cellphone to FBI agents, which showed a photo he took of himself outside the Capitol. He was eventually escorted out of the building.
Peart was later charged with one misdemeanor count of parading or demonstrating in a Capitol building. Though he pleaded not guilty to the charge in December, Peart’s next court appearance is slated for a plea agreement hearing on Jan. 12.
The first Utahn to be charged with assaulting police during the incident was another Washington County resident, Landon Copeland, of Apple Valley, who had been arrested by FBI agents in April.
Copeland entered Capitol grounds on Jan. 6 and assaulted officers outside of the building while police were trying to push back rioters, charging documents allege. Footage from Capitol Police depict Copeland grabbing a riot shield from an officer and pushing back against a police line, according to the charges, and in separate footage, Copeland and others are seen grabbing a metal barricade and trying to move it away from police. At least one officer used pepper spray on the crowd, including Copeland. In response, Copeland is accused of pushing the fence toward police.
On Feb. 11, FBI agents interviewed Copeland, where he admitted to fighting police during the attack, the charges state. He also told investigators that he did not enter the Capitol that day.
After being charged, Copeland had repeated outbursts during a May court hearing where he used multiple expletives and called a court clerk “evil.” A judge later ordered a mental health evaluation.
In September, a judge ordered that he be held in jail without bail until his case is resolved, saying, among other reasons, that Copeland had threatened a probation officer. The judge also pointed to Copeland’s statements to reporters, including one report in which Copeland allegedly said he would “willingly do it again” when asked about the Capitol riot.
Copeland — who pleaded not guilty to charges in November — remains jailed at the Washington County Jail in Hurricane, according to jail records. His next court appearance is scheduled for March 30.
Jacob Wiedrich was arrested in Salt Lake City on July 29. Days after the attack, law enforcement had received a tip that Wiedrich had been inside the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Investigators compared surveillance footage to a photo of Wiedrich from the Utah Department of Motor Vehicles, and they believed it was a match. FBI agents also reviewed videos posted to a Snapchat account that appear to show Wiedrich filming during and after the attack, charging documents state.
In one Snapchat video, investigators say Wiedrich said, “We marched to the Capitol, broke a few windows” before he allegedly went on to claim that the 2020 election was fraudulent. In other videos, charging documents say Wiedrich can be seen moving with a crowd toward the Capitol building and yelling and at one point, he complained of being tear gassed and shot with rubber bullets. One video includes Wiedrich being heard yelling, “We ride for Trump, we die for Trump,” according to court records.
Security camera footage from inside the Capitol shows Wiedrich just outside of the building and yelling at police inside, according to federal investigators. He later allegedly got inside, where he is accused of screaming at and taunting police. “At one point, Wiedrich is so confrontational that another member of the mob physically restrains him,” charging documents state.
Wiedrich was later charged with misdemeanor parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. On Oct. 14, Wiedrich pleaded guilty to the charge. So far, he is the only Jan. 6 defendant from Utah who has pleaded guilty. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 19.
As FBI agents were investigating Michael Hardin, they said they began to notice a woman next to him in security footage. Agents later learned the woman was Janet Buhler, Hardin’s stepmother-in-law, according to charging documents.
After reviewing more footage, investigators saw Buhler with Hardin in different areas of the Capitol. Agents later asked a tipster who knew Hardin, and they said a family member identified her. She and Hardin allegedly traveled together to Washington.
Shortly after news of Hardin’s arrest broke in April, FBI agents reported receiving a tip from someone who worked with Buhler’s relatives saying Buhler was in a photo being circulated in the news. The tipster identified Buhler as allegedly being in the same photograph as Hardin. In addition to the tips, FBI agents used GPS data to find that a phone linked to Buhler’s Facebook account was inside the Capitol that day, according to charging documents.
Buhler was arrested on July 30 and is charged with five misdemeanors, including entering and remaining in a restricted building. She pleaded not guilty to charges in August. A plea agreement hearing is set for Jan. 13.
Gary Wilson, of Salt Lake City, was near Brady Knowlton when they both entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to charging documents.
Body camera footage from that day shows Knowlton yelling at police while Wilson was not far away, federal investigators say. Just after Knowlton’s co-defendant, a Colorado man named Patrick Montgomery, allegedly assaulted a police officer, Wilson can be seen on body camera footage talking to Montgomery.
Later, Wilson was just behind Knowlton and Montgomery as the three could be seen on security cameras walking into the Capitol, according to the charges, and the group then walked up a flight of stairs, and Wilson was later seen inches away from a group of rioters assaulting a Capitol Police officer who was trying to prevent them from accessing the Senate Gallery. After the assault, Wilson, Knowlton and Montgomery allegedly went into the Senate Gallery.
Later, body camera footage from a Capitol Police officer captured Knowlton and Wilson yelling at police, the charges say.
“All you gotta do is step aside. You’re not getting in trouble. Stand down. For the love of your country,” Knowlton said, according to court records.
“We came all the way from our jobs to do your job and the freaking senators’ job,” Wilson allegedly said.
Wilson was arrested on Aug. 13 and is charged with multiple counts, including a charge of obstructing an official proceeding. Wilson is not being held in jail, and his next court appearance is scheduled to be a preliminary hearing on March 3.