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2 Capitol Rioters found guilty, one turned in by former classmate

In the 23 months since Jan. 6, 2021, nearly 900 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol.

WASHINGTON — Two men from Virginia and Texas were found guilty of felony charges for their actions during the Capitol Riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

Luke Bender, 22, of Stafford, Virginia, and Landon Mitchell, 32, formerly of Arlington, Virginia but now living in Texas, were found guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding and five related misdemeanor charges. 

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, on Jan. 6, 2021, Bender and Mitchell illegally entered the Capitol grounds and climbed scaffolding that had been put up for the inauguration.

The Justice Department had previously confirmed that the FBI received multiple tips about Bender’s alleged participation in the riot, including a screenshot of Bender’s Instagram account from a high school classmate. On his Instagram account, the FBI said it found a video taken from the top of the Capitol building scaffolding on Jan. 6 while a male voice can be heard saying, “We’re storming the Capitol.” The video was captioned: “Today was something special if you were there. It was great to be apart [sic] of it. #trump2020 #trump #dc #capital.” 

Around 2:45 p.m., the pair then entered the Capitol Building through the Upper West Terrace Door, went through the Rotunda and headed down the East Front Corridor, through the Ohio Clock Corridor, down a hall and into the Senate Chamber. The two then entered the Senate Floor around 3:04 p.m.  

While on the Senate Floor, they reviewed documents sitting on tables and went on to take selfies from the Senate floor, according to the office, as well as each posed for pictures at the Senate dais. Minutes later, U.S. Capitol Police officers directed the rioters to leave the Chamber and Bender and Mitchell left the building around 3:10 p.m.

Both defendants later posted messages on social media boasting of their actions, the office said, adding that as an example, on Jan. 7, 2021, Mitchell posted, and Bender re-posted, an image of a skull surrounded by red smoke, with the caption, “Absolutely proud of my fellow Americans who made their voices heard at the Capitol.”

Bender was arrested on July 29, 2021, in Fairfax, Virginia. Mitchell was arrested on Oct. 20, 2021, in Arlington, Virginia. Both are to be sentenced on March 3, 2023. 

The two face a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison on the obstruction charge, as well as a maximum total of 3.5 years in prison on the misdemeanor offenses of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, entering and remaining on the floor of Congress, and disorderly conduct in a Capitol Building or grounds. The charges also carry potential financial penalties.

 A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

In the 23 months since Jan. 6, 2021, nearly 900 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including over 275 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. 

The investigation remains ongoing. Anyone with tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or visit tips.fbi.gov

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