Two Kentucky men arrested on suspicion of involvement in the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol recently made their first court appearances before a Bowling Green-based federal judge.
Robert L. Bauer of Cave City was arrested Jan. 15 and later that day made an initial appearance while in custody before Magistrate Judge Brent Brennenstuhl of U.S. District Court in the Western District of Kentucky.
Damon Michael Beckley was arrested Jan. 16 in Hart County and made his initial appearance before Brennenstuhl three days later over video while in custody at the Grayson County Detention Center.
Beckley faces charges of unlawful entry of a restricted building and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
Federal prosecutors based in Washington charged Bauer and a cousin, Edward Hemenway of Virginia, on Friday with entering and remaining in a restricted building, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, violent entry and disorderly conduct at the grounds and in a Capitol building and parading, demonstrating and picketing in a Capitol building.
Bauer initially faced two charges at the time of his arrest, but two counts were added in an information – a charging document filed by federal prosecutors when a case is not presented to a grand jury – filed Friday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Bauer and Beckley are both free on $25,000 unsecured bonds mandating that they not participate in any protests or go on any federal or state capitol grounds while their cases are pending.
Beckley’s internet use has also been restricted under the terms of his bond, having been ordered to make no posts or communications related to the protests or matters related to the U.S. government.
The two men are among many who have been accused of joining in a mob that stormed the Capitol as Congress was meeting to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Then-President Donald Trump made a number of unsubstantiated claims in the aftermath of the election, which he lost to newly-inaugurated President Joe Biden, and embarked on several fruitless legal challenges to the results.
On Jan. 6, hundreds of people gathered in front of the Capitol, and some forced their way past barricades and U.S. Capitol Police officers into the building. Five people died in the incident.
In a criminal complaint, the FBI said it obtained two videos from YouTube and a witness in which Beckley appears.
In one video, Beckley is shown identifying himself by name and speaking to someone as scores of people are seen climbing up steps and scaffolding at the Capitol, the complaint said.
“Vice President Pence, my name is Damon Michael Beckley and I do not appreciate one bit this situation you caused here sir. All this violence and everything was 100% unnecessary, OK,” Beckley is quoted as saying in the complaint. “Now we’ve got a girl that’s shot, she’s dead, laying on the ground in there.”
Trump had called on Pence to stop the Electoral College certification from taking place. Pence refused to do so.
The complaint shows that Beckley continues speaking in the video.
“We’re not putting up with this tyrannical rule,” Beckley said as described in the complaint. “If we got to come back here and start a revolution and take all these traitors out, which is what should be done, then we will.”
A witness with knowledge of Beckley’s social media activities contacted the FBI on Jan. 7 to report that Beckley posted a picture of himself inside the Capitol, the complaint said.
The FBI was contacted about Bauer on Jan. 7 by someone who reported that he was at the scene and had posted pictures from Washington on his Facebook page, court records show.
FBI agents interviewed Bauer on Jan. 8, and he said he and his wife traveled from Kentucky to attend the Jan. 6 event outside the Capitol, staying with Hemenway from Jan. 1-5 and then at a Washington hotel on the night of Jan. 5, according to the criminal complaint against Bauer.
They attended the pro-Trump rally the next day.
Bauer told investigators that he heard Trump speak and the crowd began marching toward the Capitol after Trump said “we are going down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol,” the complaint said.
“Bauer reiterated that he marched to the U.S. Capitol because President Trump said to do so,” the complaint said.
Bauer said he entered the building while his wife, who has not been charged, stayed outside and eventually returned to their hotel. According to the complaint, he told the FBI he saw people throwing things at U.S. Capitol Police officers and he yelled at them, saying, “What the hell are you doing? They have stood down.”
During the interview, Bauer admitted entering the Capitol, the complaint said.
“He stated that he did not think he had done anything wrong and according to him, there were no signs posted stating that he could not enter the U.S. Capitol building,” the complaint said.
Both Bauer and Hemenway told the FBI they remembered encountering a police officer as they entered.
“According to Bauer, the police officer grabbed his hand, shook it, and said, ‘It’s your house now,’ ” the complaint said. “Bauer believed that the policeman was acting out of fear.”
FBI agents obtained photos and video appearing to show Bauer inside the Capitol, and Bauer is seen chanting “our house” in one of the videos, the complaint said.
“Bauer stated that his reason for entering the Capitol was to ‘occupy the space,’ ” the complaint said. “He had no intention of assaulting law enforcement or fighting anyone. He also denied knowing Congress was in session at the time he entered the Capitol building. Bauer explained that people in the crowd were angry about pedophiles, the news cycle and losing their businesses during the lockdown.”
Both cases against Bauer and Beckley have been transferred to U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, with Bauer having made an appearance Thursday via video and Beckley due to appear Wednesday.