Montana appliance store owner charged in US Capitol breach
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana appliance store owner and supporter of former President Donald Trump was charged Thursday in connection with the breach of the U.S. Capitol while Congress was certifying the Electoral College vote.
Videos taken inside the Capitol and social media posts led to the arrest of Henry Phillip Muntzer, 52, of Dillon, authorities said in court records.
Muntzer made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Missoula on Thursday, where he was charged with illegally entering the Capitol and disorderly conduct. U.S. Magistrate Kathleen DeSoto appointed a federal defender and released Muntzer on the condition he appear in federal court in Washington on Jan. 28, the court clerk said.
Muntzer did not enter a plea and the phone at his business, Dillon Appliances Inc., rang unanswered Thursday morning.
Charging documents indicated the FBI found videos taken at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 that included images of Muntzer inside the building as members of Congress were evacuated from the House and Senate chambers. Five people died, including a Capitol police officer who was beaten to death and a woman who was shot by law enforcement.
A video taken outside the building includes an interview with Muntzer, in which he said he was inside the Capitol for about an hour, the documents said.
Muntzer is known in Dillon for a mural on the building that houses his appliance store that supports QAnon, according to the Dillon Tribune, which first reported Muntzer’s arrest. Many QAnon followers believe in a baseless, convoluted conspiracy theory in which Trump is the “savior” against Democrats running a satanic pedophile ring.
A Facebook post by Muntzer, cited in court documents, included video taken from inside the U.S. Capitol and was entitled “Stormed the Capitol in Washington DC.” In the post, court records said, Muntzer said people pushed through Capitol police and entered several chambers.
It added: “‘I did not see anyone get hurt other than tear gas and pepper spray and I got sprayed a lot. We sent the message that we are not going to take it, we want out country back...’” the records state.
Before Jan. 6, Muntzer made several Facebook posts indicating his plans to travel to Washington, rent a house and offer help for people to pay for their trip plus “floor space” in his rental for people unable to find lodging, court records said.
After returning from Washington, Muntzer told the Dillon Tribune he had been in the Capitol for an hour.
“So, we get inside there and we’re going, ‘Our house! Our house!’ you know, just kind of chanting it, and just walking around in these rooms and standing there,” Muntzer told the newspaper.
After about 15 minutes inside the building, Muntzer told the newspaper, “they started spraying all of us and pushing on us, and we had no place to go because we were all packed in there like sardines.”
He added: “Then we start pushing back against them, then it would stop for a minute and it would start again,” the Tribune reported.