BOISE, Idaho — An Idaho Falls man who posted on Facebook about joining an attempted coup at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6 has been arrested.
Tyler Tew, 39, is charged with federal counts of Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building or Grounds; Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in a Restricted Building or Grounds; Disorderly Conduct in a Capitol Building; Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building. The charges carry a potential penalty of up to a year and a half in prison and fines of more than $100,000.
A large group of supporters of former president Donald Trump stormed the building Jan. 6, 2020 in an attempt to attempt to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, were killed and more than 100 officers were hurt. The mob caused an estimated $1.4 million in damage.
According to the FBI, geolocation data from Tew's cellphone as well as surveillance video and officers' body camera video place him inside the Capitol building during the riot. He can be seen entering the Capitol through the Senate Parliamentarian door, and looking inside an office belonging to then-Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Richard Shelby, according to charging documents.
Tew, who was wearing a red “Keep America Great” hat, a khaki coat, and a gold ring, was also captured on video outside the North Door of the Capitol, appearing to yell at the law enforcement officers stationed there before being pepper-sprayed.
The suspect is believed to have deleted photos, messages and Internet history from Jan. 6 off of his cellphone, according to the FBI, but officers were able to recover some of the data, including selfies, other photographs and messages in which Tew says he was inside the Capitol building.
Tyler Tew arrested in U.S. Capitol riot
On the evening of Jan. 6, Tew posted on his Facebook page about the riot, arguing that it had been non-violent.
"DC protests: to be clear! There was absolutely zero vandalism aside from a broken door that I saw, I saw no fighting and only anger at our government for allowing an election to be stolen," he wrote in part. "YOU SHOULD BE MAD TOO! There is no mob. There is respect to the police, at the door they are trying to convince the police to stand down, respectfully and allow the protesters to occupy OUR, the PEOPLE’S CAPITAL BUILDING."
The next day, Tew again defended the attack on the Capitol, repeating false assertions that the election had been rigged, according to the complaint.
"LOOK AT THE PICTURES you see of people that are inside the capital In those pictures I see patriots that just heard Pence wasn't going to stand up In those pictures I see patriots that want to make a point," Tew's post read. "In those pictures I see patriots that went against the system. Unfortunately they broke some windows to get inside a government building they were being locked out of by the very group of people that are screwing us over."
Biden beat Trump by more than 7 million individual votes and 74 Electoral College votes. Multiple bipartisan investigations have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
The FBI began investigating Tew on Jan. 12 after receiving a tip from someone who saw his posts on social media. A search warrant for his cellphone was issued in June, and he was arrested Tuesday by FBI agents, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS,) and the Idaho Falls Police Department.
He is the sixth Idahoan charged in the failed coup: Josiah Colt of Meridian, Duke Wilson of Nampa, Michael Pope of Sandpoint, and Yvonne St. Cyr and Pam Hemphill, both of Boise, are also facing federal charges. Hundreds of other defendants across the U.S. have also been charged criminally.
Tew is due to appear in federal court via video link for a hearing Thursday afternoon.
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