Two men became the first people to be hit with federal charges on Thursday for their actions in a riot at the US Capitol building one day earlier in which pro-Trump supporters overran the building leading to officers being injured and four deaths.
The men, identified as Christopher Alberts and Mark Jefferson Leffingwell, were both scheduled to appear in federal court in Washington, DC, Thursday afternoon.
Alberts, of Maryland, was charged with one count of carrying or having access to firearms or ammunition on US Capitol Grounds, according to the complaint sworn by an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department.
Alberts, who was wearing a bulletproof vest and wearing a backpack, was approached by the MPD officer after the officer identified a bulge on Albert’s right hip.
The officer said Albert’s tried to flee and after he was apprehended with the help of two other officers they found with a black Taurus G2C 9mm handgun and a magazine of ammunition.
In total, according to the complaint, Alberts had 25 rounds of ammunition on him. The officer also seized a gas mask, pocket-knife, first aid kit, and one military meal-ready-to-eat, or MRE.
Alberts told authorities after his arrest that “he was in possession of the firearm for personal protection and he did not intend on using the firearm to harm anyone.”
Leffingwell, 51, faces three criminal counts and has not yet entered a plea.
During the push of to enter the Capitol building, Leffingwell allegedly attempted to push past a Capitol Police officer who was trying to blockade the building, then punched the officer, authorities said.
The officer, Daniel Amendola, wrote that Leffingwell punched him “repeatedly with a closed fist” in his police helmet and in the chest. The police then restrained him. Leffingwell later apologized to Amendola, according to a court filing.
The Capitol Police officer’s statement of facts released Thursday also described the police reaction to the siege as the joint session of Congress was underway certifying the electoral vote of Joe Biden for president, when a crowd gathering outside that then broke into the Capitol building.
“Members of the US Capitol Police attempted to maintain order and keep the crowd from entering the Capitol; however, shortly after 2:00pm, individuals in the crowd forced entry into the US Capitol, including by breaking windows,” Amendola wrote.
The officer also described evacuating Congressional officials and the Vice President Mike Pence.
“In reacting to the crowd that had breached a window of the building, I moved to a hallway” on the Senate side of the Capitol, Amendola described. “While there, I attempted to form a barrier with other officers to stop or deter additional individuals from entering the Capitol building.”
The federal court proceedings for Capitol-related defendants are before Magistrate Judge Michael Harvey of the DC District Court and are ongoing now.
Police did not report where Leffingwell resides. He is currently being held in the central cellblock of the DC jail, according to his court proceeding. He’ll stay there overnight until he can be seen in court again Friday. Prosecutors say he might flee if released.
His attorney told the court that Leffingwell is a disabled veteran who suffers from memory loss.