A Maryland man who entered the U.S. Capital during the Jan. 6 insurrection, but who also was recorded telling rioters “do not destroy anything,” and seemingly trying to help police at one point during the siege, has pleaded guilty to illegally entering the building.
Robert Maurice Reeder, of Harford County, faces up to six months in prison for a federal charge of entering the Capitol in Washington, D.C., when a large crowd stormed the building following a rally for former President Donald Trump.
Reeder’s attorney, Robert C. Bonsib, said after the plea last week that his client is “not politically active” and unwittingly got caught up in the action. Bonsib said his client is a registered Democrat, had never attended a political rally and did not support Trump.
In the criminal complaint, federal prosecutors showed several photos of Reeder wearing a red “Make America Great Again” cap and wrote that a video appeared to show Reeder chanting: “Fight for Trump.”
As a result of attending the rally, Reeder has lost his job and has been “alienated by disappointed family members,” his attorney said.
Bonsib said Reeder only decided to attend the rally that day after he had heard about it on the news and was looking for something to do.
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He said Reeder only entered the Capitol building in search of a water. Once inside, Reeder began looking for a way out after the crowd inside crowd inside started yelling and did “not act with respect,” his attorney said.
Prosecutors, in their criminal complaint, also said Reeder was looking for a way out and at one point warned police officers in the capital to “retreat” when he saw signs they may be in danger.
Bonsib said his client never vandalized anything or went into any restricted areas, and he has fully cooperated with authorities since the beginning of the investigation. He said his client was among the first to hand over his personal pictures and videos from the rally to law enforcement.
“He does not want to be remembered as or considered one of the unlawful or violent protestors that assaulted the Capitol that day,” Bonsib said.
Reeder was identified after the Federal Bureau of Investigation sent out images of those who breached the Capitol. The Harford County State’s Attorney’s office later submitted a tip to the FBI that Reeder had been identified using facial recognition software, according to the complaint.
On January 20, Reeder, through Bosnib, contacted the U.S. Attorney’s Office and provided a compilation video of photos and videos taken by him on his cell phone during the insurrection. That information included video capturing the assault of Capitol police officer, according to the complaint. At the end of the video, Reeder said he was “gassed several times” and “shot with pepper balls,” the complaint said.
“We had to do...ah... battle with the Police inside. It was crazy...absolutely insane,” he said, according to the complaint.