FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — As they build their case, federal prosecutors are looking into Richard Barnett's character, the man from Northwest Arkansas at the center of a viral photo in House Speak Nancy Pelosi's Office during the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021.
Prosecutors are pulling bodycam footage from Fayetteville, Arkansas police to see how Barnett recently interacted in the community.
Federal court documents mention Barnett's lack of significant criminal history but say there have been multiple incidents where community members called police to investigate his behavior in 2020.
According to court documents, Barnett lacks any significant criminal history, with his only prior convictions being traffic offenses. Yet, in the latter half of 2020 alone, the government has identified two prior incidents where individuals called law enforcement to investigate his behavior. During the first incident in July of 2020, a 911 caller described an individual she believed had pointed a rifle at her during a 'Back the Blue' rally. When police arrived at the scene, officers identified Barnett as matching the description of the perpetrator. They noted he was causing a disturbance with other protestors and had a rifle. Law enforcement ultimately closed the investigation as unfounded due to unresolved apparent discrepancies in the evidence.
Barnett's alleged history of carrying firearms and dangerous weapons at First Amendment demonstrations, combined with his actions at the Capitol, reflects a recent and ongoing pattern of creating and contributing to volatile, dangerous situations, court documents state.
Court records also show federal investigators are looking into an incident from September of 2020 where a person called police to a "Save our Children" rally in Fayetteville. A caller described Barnett carrying a machine gun at the protest and allegedly acting suspiciously.
Barnett was not arrested for any wrongdoing on that day. He did tell police about a future rally that he wanted them to know about, though. You can watch Barnett's interaction with Fayetteville officers that day below.
On Jan. 6, 2021, shortly after President Donald Trump urged his supporters to march down to the U.S. Capitol during a "Stop the Steal" rally, rioters breached police barricades, making their way into the building and inside Senate chambers. The insurrection caused a lockdown, and Congress members, who were in the process of confirming the electoral college votes that would officially make Joe Biden the president-elect, were escorted from chambers. Four people died, and 50 police officers were injured in the chaos.
Barnett was one of the people that stormed the Capitol. He has pleaded not guilty to several charges stemming from his participation in the riot.
A federal grand jury indicted Barnett with seven charges:
- Obstruction of an Official Proceeding & Aiding and Abetting
- Entering and Remaining in a Restricted Building or Grounds with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon
- Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in a Restricted Building or Grounds with a Deadly or Dangerous Weapon
- Entering and Remaining in Certain Rooms in a Capitol Building
- Disorderly Conduct in a Capitol Building
- Parading, Demonstrating, or Picketing in a Capitol Building
- Theft of Government Property
Barnett admitted to 5NEWS the day of the riot that he entered Pelosi's office and stole a piece of mail from a desk.
During his court cases, the FBI unveiled that Barnett entered the capitol building with a stun gun, which added several years to his possible sentencing.