Man accused of pepper-spraying police at Oregon Capitol

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — A Portland man is accused of pepper-spraying six Salem and state police officers while breaking into the Oregon State Capitol during a protest against COVID-19 restrictions.

Chandler Pappas, 27, sprayed a line of officers in the face on Dec. 21, Marion County Deputy District Attorney Drew Anderson said Tuesday.

Anderson said Pappas was armed with an AR-15 and the incident was caught on cameras worn by officers, the Statesman Journal reported.

Pappas allegedly posted on Twitter afterward saying he was not sorry for what he did, Anderson said. Pappas is being held in the Marion County jail on $250,000 bail. It wasn’t immediately known if Pappas has a lawyer.

Pappas was one of several men taken into custody that day for alleged violent behavior during a protest decrying COVID-related closures during a special legislative session.

Pappas faces six counts of assaulting a police officer, as well as a burglary and riot charge.

Pappas is a supporter of Patriot Prayer, a right-wing, Washington-based group. In October, Pappas led a group into Portland where they removed a makeshift metal elk that had been propped up by protesters last summer to make a political statement, according to a story in The Oregonian/OregonLive.

According to a probable cause statement, on Dec. 21, Pappas allegedly pepper-sprayed Salem police detective Anthony Burke, officers Jeffrey Lucenti, Vincennt Salazar, Roger Hibbeler, and David Smith, and Oregon State Police Trooper Logan Denney.

Burke said in the statement he was unable to see clearly for about five minutes after being pepper-sprayed. He said he felt “severe pain” and skin irritation, and had difficulty breathing.

After Pappas allegedly sprayed the officers, they retreated into the Capitol building, which was closed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Burke said Pappas and others forcefully entered the building vestibule while police stood by the doors leading into the main lobby to keep protesters out. Pappas allegedly started kicking the doors that were latched with handcuffs.

“It was clear that Chandler was leading the crowd to engage in violent and riotous behavior against law enforcement officers keeping the protesters from entering,” Burke said in the statement.