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Feds arrest, charge woman in pink hat during Capitol attack

February 5, 2021 GMT
Rachel Powell, of Sandy Lake, Pa., uses a bullhorn to talk to passing cars while protesting stay-at-home orders and the shutdown of non-essential businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic outside the Mercer County Courthouse, on April 20, 2020, in Mercer, Pa. Federal agents on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, were at the home of Powell, who told a magazine this week she was at the U.S. Capitol last month during the riot by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, a TV station reported. WKBN-TV said investigators were conducting court-authorized activity at her home. (Tanner Mondok/The Herald via AP)
Rachel Powell, of Sandy Lake, Pa., uses a bullhorn to talk to passing cars while protesting stay-at-home orders and the shutdown of non-essential businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic outside the Mercer County Courthouse, on April 20, 2020, in Mercer, Pa. Federal agents on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, were at the home of Powell, who told a magazine this week she was at the U.S. Capitol last month during the riot by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, a TV station reported. WKBN-TV said investigators were conducting court-authorized activity at her home. (Tanner Mondok/The Herald via AP)

A Pennsylvania woman was charged with helping to storm the U.S. Capitol, with federal authorities saying she is the person in a pink hat shown in video directing others through a bullhorn about how to gain further control of the building, authorities said Friday.

Rachel Marie Powell was taken into custody Thursday night in New Castle, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) from her home in Sandy Lake, said Margaret Philbin, a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh.

Prosecutors have asked that she remain in custody, asserting she might otherwise flee.

Her lawyer, Michael Engle, of Philadelphia, said Powell is not a flight risk and has neither the means nor the desire to leave her young children.

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Engle declined to address the allegations, saying he was reviewing them. Powell said little during an initial court appearance Friday afternoon, and will be jailed at least until a detention hearing on Tuesday.

Engle said Powell turned herself in once she knew charges were pending against her.

“She wanted to turn herself in to face these charges and address them head-on,” Engle said.

An FBI agent’s affidavit on a warrant issued Wednesday said that after a group inside a Capitol room stated they needed a plan, Powell told them “that they should ‘coordinate together if you are going to take this building.’ She also notes that they ‘have another window to break.’”

Powell, 40, a mother of eight, also is accused of using a large pipe to break a Capitol window.

The warrant lists charges of violent entry or disorderly conduct, obstruction, depredation of government property, entering a restricted building and being in that building with a dangerous weapon.

Also Friday, a federal judge in Philadelphia ordered a Bucks County man charged this week with assaulting a federal officer during the Capitol siege to remain in federal custody as his case is transferred to D.C.

Ryan Samsel, 37, can request release at a later date, U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard A. Lloret said. Samsel, who was arrested Saturday, is on parole for a separate assault conviction and has an outstanding warrant in New Jersey for an alleged assault from 2019, federal authorities said.

An agent said in a charging document that Samsel and a few other rioters pushed and pulled on a barrier being held by several Capitol officers until it fell, knocking an agent backward onto the ground, where she banged her head. She blacked out and was taken to a hospital.

The agent said Samsel could be seen in videos then joining in a different altercation between rioters and guards and attempting to take a riot shield from one of the officers. Samsel faces other charges, including obstructing an official proceeding.

Federal authorities arrested a Kentucky man — who is also charged with assault of Capitol officers — Thursday in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. According to court documents, Peter Schwartz is accused of spraying orange-colored mace at at least two officers on Jan. 6 while gaining entry to the Capitol. Court documents did not include an age for Schwartz or say why he was in Uniontown when he was taken into custody.

No attorney information for Schwartz was listed in court documents.

The arrest affidavit says a tipster contacted the FBI to identify Schwartz from wanted posters, saying Schwartz was supposed to be living in a rehabilitation center in Owensboro, Kentucky, because of a conditional release from prison based on coronavirus concerns. He is scheduled to appear in court next week.