New York man accused of breaking window in Capitol attack
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A man seen on video using a clear police shield to break a window at the U.S. Capitol before storming inside was arrested Friday after being identified as a Rochester resident with apparent ties to the far-right Proud Boys extremist group, according to a criminal complaint.
Dominic Pezzola, 43, was charged in the federal complaint with destruction of government property, obstruction of an official proceeding and illegally entering a restricted building.
Pezzola is believed to be the bearded man seen in widely shared video shattering an exterior Capitol window, which he and others then climbed through. Another video taken inside the building shows the man smoking a cigar in what he calls a “victory smoke,” according to the FBI.
Authorities identified Pezzola with the help of two witnesses, as well as photographs from a Dec. 12 pro-Trump rally in Washington, during which Pezzola appears to be wearing a Proud Boys T-shirt, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit. In an online biography, the man nicknamed “Spaz” describes himself as “Marine vet/ boxer/ patriot/ Proud Boy 2nd.”
One witness said Pezzola bragged about using a Capitol Police shield to break the window Jan. 6 and was with a group whose members said they would have killed “anyone they got their hands on,” including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The witness “further stated that members of this group, which included ‘Spaz,’ said that they would have killed (Vice President) Mike Pence if given the chance,” the affidavit said.
Pezzola’s attorney described his client as a family man who is self-employed after graduating from a private Roman Catholic high school and being honorably discharged following six years in the Marines.
“If this in fact was Dominic, I think anyone would agree this would be wildly out of character,” the attorney, Mike Scibetta, said by phone.
Pezzola was being held without bail at the request of Assistant U.S. Attorney Brett Harvey after an initial appearance via video in U.S. District Court in Rochester. Pezzola’s next court appearance will be in Washington.
He could face more than 20 years in prison if convicted.
Pezzola is among several New York residents and dozens nationwide to be charged as law enforcement identifies and rounds up participants in the deadly attack of the Capitol by Trump loyalists.
More state troopers are being deployed around the New York state Capitol and the National Guard will be on standby as law enforcement braces for more potential violence leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, officials said Friday.
The FBI warned this week that armed protests by violent Trump supporters were being planned in all 50 state capitals in the days leading up to the inauguration Wednesday.
State Police Maj. Christopher West said security is being increased even though there was no credible threat to Albany.
“Anyone who comes to the Capitol with the intention of causing violence or damage to public property will be arrested,” West said at a law enforcement news conference. “We have zero tolerance for anyone who incites what causes any violence.”
Thompson reported from Buffalo, New York.