A fourth Utahn faces federal charges for allegedly entering the U.S. Capitol during a deadly riot while Congress counted electoral votes for president in January.
Willard Jake Peart, of Toquerville, Washington County, is scheduled to appear Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on charges of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.
According to court documents, the FBI was notified that Peart entered the Capitol on Jan. 6 and wanted to meet with agents to discuss his conduct. His attorney contacted and arranged an interview.
Peart told FBI agents in an interview that he attended a rally for then-President Donald Trump and then walked over to the Capitol not intending to go inside, according to court documents. But once he saw rioters entering the building, he decided to go in. At some point, he wrapped himself in a Trump flag, court documents say.
Once inside, Peart walked around the first floor between the Senate chamber and Statuary Hall. He joined rioters in chanting and calling out politicians. He did not destroy anything or assault anyone while in the Capitol, according to court documents.
Capitol Police eventually escorted him out of the building.
“Peart admitted to knowingly entering the U.S. Capitol building with the intent that his entry would impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of government business or official functions. While inside, Peart’s conduct was disorderly and disruptive due to the fact that Peart chanted loudly inside while parading and demonstrating inside of the building,” according to court documents.
While Peart took photos of himself with his cellphone outside of the Capitol, his phone died before he went inside. Video surveillance cameras captured several images of him in the building.
Government prosecutors did not seek to hold Peart in custody. A federal magistrate judge in St. George released him with certain conditions. Peart is scheduled to appear in court in Washington via videoconference on Wednesday.
Three other Utahns have been charged for allegedly entering the Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection.