Michigan man bragged about storming U.S. Capitol during siege

Robert Snell
The Detroit News
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Detroit — Federal agents Friday arrested a Troy man who is accused of breaking into the U.S. Capitol in January during a deadly siege and bragging how he "pushed back the cops."

Anthony Robert Williams, 45, is the sixth person from Michigan charged in connection with the insurrection that followed a “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6 that included a speech by President Donald Trump.

Facebook provided the FBI with photos of Southgate resident Anthony R. Williams inside the U.S. Capitol.

FBI investigators portray Williams as a selfie-taking braggart and Trump supporter who disputed the presidential election results and recorded himself talking about his success breaking into the Capitol.

"Desperate times call for desperate measures," Williams said, according to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court.

Williams, a painter, is charged with illegally entering a restricted building, obstructing official proceedings, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, according to a petition filed in federal court Friday. Prosecutors want to transfer Williams to federal court in Washington, D.C.

Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington.

A masked Williams appeared briefly in federal court in Detroit wearing a red-and-black shirt. He received a court-appointed lawyer, Stacey Studnicki, who did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Williams was released on $10,000 unsecured bond and ordered to surrender his passport and attend a virtual court hearing in D.C. next week.

“You’re to stay away from Washington, D.C., except for court appearances or consultation with your attorney,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Kimberly Altman told him. “Do you agree to abide by those conditions?”

“I do, 100 percent, your honor,” Williams said.

The Williams case started with an online tip that he broke into the Capitol along with hundreds of others during the siege. The tipster described since-deleted Facebook posts showing Williams inside the Capitol, according to an affidavit filed in court by an FBI agent.

Investigators found photos of Williams at the Capitol and obtained phone records showing his phone inside the building on Jan. 6, according to the FBI agent. Investigators have used digital tools to determine which phones connected to WiFi inside the building or nearby cell towers.

Facebook provided photos and videos from his account showing Williams inside the building, according to the government.

"In the videos, among other things, Williams discussed his success in entering the building, saying 'desperate times call for desperate measures,'" the FBI agent wrote. "He also poses next to and around statues and in other areas of the Capitol."

Facebook provided this photo of Anthony R. Williams inside the U.S. Capitol to the FBI.

In another video, Williams talks about how he "stormed" the building and "pushed back the cops,"  the FBI agent wrote.

"We took this f------ building," Williams said, according to the affidavit.

Facebook also provided posts that reveal Williams planned to travel to Washington, D.C., to “storm the swamp." In one photo, Williams is shown in a bar with at least five others.

“Yep, we pissed and we coming to Congress,” he wrote in one post. “Be prepared to #FightBack.”

His Facebook page served as a travelogue of his trip to the nation’s capital. Williams posted photos during a stop in Pennsylvania with the caption “Operation Storm the Swamp,” according to the FBI.

Facebook also provided this photo of Anthony R. Williams during a stop on the way to the nation's capital.

In another post, Williams called himself an “Operation Storm Swamp Veteran” after the siege.

The charges come one week after Daniel Herendeen, 43, of Chesterfield Township and Bobby Schornak, 39, of Roseville were charged with obstructing Congress, breaking into the Capitol and disorderly conduct.

The men are portrayed in an unsealed FBI memo filed in federal court as friends who planned together to attend the “Stop the Steal” rally. The planning included packing body armor, a knife, helmets and gear that included "Antifa spray," according to the FBI.

They are free on $10,000 unsecured bond.

More than 250 people have been charged with federal crimes for their roles in the siege and there are ongoing investigations targeting several hundred additional people, according to prosecutors.

“The spectrum of crimes charged and under investigation in connection with the Capitol Attack includes (but is not limited to) trespass, engaging in disruptive or violent conduct in the Capitol or on Capitol grounds, destruction of government property, theft of government property, assaults on federal and local police officers, firearms offenses, civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, possession and use of destructive devices, murder, sedition and conspiracy,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Blackwell wrote in a court filing.

The three other Michiganians charged in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection are:

• Michael Joseph Foy, 30, of Wixom. Federal prosecutors said Foy on Jan. 6 struck law enforcement at least 10 times with a hockey stick that had carried a President Donald Trump flag earlier in the day. Foy, who is being held without bond, later rallied others to climb through broken windows in the U.S. Capitol, prosecutors said, citing a YouTube video and police body camera footage. 

• Karl Dresch, 40, of Calumet was denied bond after allegedly entering the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

A YouTube video shown at a federal court hearing Monday caught the moment a man authorities believe to be Michael Foy attacked police guarding an entrance to the Capitol with a hockey stick that bore a Trump flag earlier in the day.

• James Allen Mels, 56, of Shelby Township. Mels posted selfies after entering the Capitol and told investigators he traveled to Washington, D.C., with 11 other "like minded Patriots" because "he believed the 2020 presidential election to have been fraudulently decided," according to a federal court filing. The sheet metal worker was released on $10,000 unsecured bond following an initial appearance in federal court in Detroit.

rsnell@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @robertsnellnews 

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