WASHINGTON — Federal authorities this morning arrested a Warren man accused of taking part in the deadly riot in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Stephen Ayres, 38, faces charges of obstruction of justice/Congress, unlawful entry into restricted buildings or grounds and violent entry or disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
Ayres’ case will be tried in the District of Columbia federal court. His initial appearance is set for this afternoon.
According to a 17-page federal affidavit filed Monday by the FBI, Ayres and two others appeared in a video posted to social media, giving their names and their accounts of the Capitol riot. That video was removed or otherwise made private days later, but remained on YouTube for investigators to find.
The three claimed the video was recorded at their hotel following the riot and that they wanted to “share what really happened” at the Capitol. Another man who appeared in the video but is not named in the affidavit claimed “Antifa” was responsible for breaching the Capitol Building and that the media, police and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser coordinated a “staged Antifa setup.”
The mob, incited by former President Trump at a rally just hours before, intended to disrupt a 1 p.m. joint session of Congress to certify Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election.
According to the affidavit, at about 2 p.m., some in the mob pushed through barricades, assaulted Capitol Police officers and forced entry into the Capitol Building by breaking windows. Congress members were evacuated until later that evening.
That unidentified man claimed in the video he and Ayres “walked right into the Capitol Building,” and that police “basically let everyone walk in” and escorted them through the building. Later it appeared as if police “flipped a switch” and began dispersing the crowd.
“They just wanted that footage of people inside the Capitol Building to make it seem like all the Trump people bum-rushed the Capitol,” the man said.
That man said the purpose of the Jan. 6 demonstration was to expose Vice President Mike Pence as a “traitor,” presumably for Pence’s decision not to intervene in the electoral certification process on Trump’s behalf. Though the vice president lacks that authority, supporters were reportedly led to believe otherwise.
One of Ayres' relatives positively identified the man after watching video showing Ayres at the Capitol, which he posted to his Facebook page. FBI investigators learned Ayres used Facebook Live several times throughout the day — once at about 4 p.m. during the riot and several times earlier that morning.
"[The witness] stated that, in the streaming video, Ayres was acting 'like he was at war' and there was a lot of 'yelling and screaming going on.'
"Ayres stated that the incident at the Capitol was 'just the beginning' because there was 'more to come next week'," presumably referring to other demonstrations.
The D.C. federal court magistrate authorized a search warrant for Ayres’ Facebook account on Jan. 19. Investigators found multiple posts and shared media from Capitol riot in which Ayres appears or identifies himself. Those media were then referenced with surveillance footage in which Ayres appears inside the Capitol building.
In a Dec. 26 Facebook post, Ayres called for "Civil War" should President Donald Trump be "robbed" of the 2020 election. He later commented on the post that it was "time for us to start standing up to tyranny."
"History is happening as we speak! ... It's time for us partiers to stand up and act. Before it's too late!!”