Farmington man surprised he faces charges in Capitol riot

April 13, 2021 GMT

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A Farmington man arrested for his acknowledged presence inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot says he is surprised that he now faces criminal charges.

Shawn Bradley Witzemann told KOB-TV that he looks forward to being exonerated and called the charges against him false. He said he has a defense for his presence in the Capitol, though he declined to explain. And he said he wasn’t aware beforehand of any plans to breach the Capitol.

“That was the last thing on my mind,” he told KOB-TV. “I remember when I went there, I actually had a tent because the only thing that I was aware of anyone was planning was possibly, as they say, occupying the Capitol grounds in a form of peaceful protests.”

Authorities say Witzemann acknowledged during an FBI interview that he was inside the Capitol and provided investigators with three videos he took while in the building.

The FBI said Witzemann, who travels to protests to provide live-streaming video coverage and takes part in a podcast called “The Armenian Council for Truth in Journalism,” walked into the Capitol, made his way to the building’s rotunda and shot video with his phone until an officer told him to leave.

Before entering the building, authorities say Witzemann tried to climb scaffolding to get a better view of the crowd but an officer told him to come down.

In a filing last week, his attorney said Witzemann is a plumber who also is also a freelance journalist and that his client didn’t participate in any violence or acts of sedition while inside the Capitol.

Witzemann is charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, and other charges.