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Capitol Hill Rioter Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison

January 2021 riots US Capitol
Rioters storm the U.S. Capitol. January 2021 riots at the US Capitol. Credit: Tyler Merbler / CC-BY-2.0 / Wikimedia Commons

After storming the US Capitol with his wife on January 6, 2021, and using pepper spray and a folding chair to attack police officers, Peter Schwartz was given a 14-year prison sentence on Friday.

This is the longest sentence served to a January 6 defendant so far, among hundreds of Capitol riot cases.

Schwartz was found guilty on 10 charges in December 2022 during a jury trial.

Those included four felony charges of assaulting, resisting or impeding officers using a dangerous weapon.

“I do sincerely regret the damage that January 6th has done to so many people and their lives,” the 49-year-old welder reportedly told the court.

Capitol Hill rioter had long criminal record

According to a sentencing memo, by throwing a folding chair at police officers, Schwartz directly contributed to the fall of the police line that enabled rioters to flood forward and take over the terrace.

He then used chemical munitions, including pepper spray, that had been left behind by fleeing officers, to attack police who “desperately tried to escape the growing and increasingly violent mob”.

Prosecutors had recommended a prison sentence of 24 years for Schwartz, whose eventual 14-year sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release.

He already had a long criminal record with 38 prior convictions, which, the CNN says, was a “significant factor” behind his sentence.

Federal Judge Amit Mehta, who sentenced Schwartz for his actions during the Capitol Hill riots, had also handed down the previous longest sentence, 10 years, to a retired NYPD officer who assaulted a police officer at service outside the Capitol building as the riots unfolded, the Associated Press points out.

Mehta told Schwartz that he was “not a political prisoner” but “a soldier against democracy.”

Ongoing trials of U.S. Capitol rioters

Also on Friday, five members of the far-right Proud Boys, including their former leader, were found guilty for their role in the January 6 U.S. Capitol riot.

Four were convicted of seditious conspiracy, while all five were found guilty of obstructing official proceedings, alongside other felonies, according to the BBC.

More than 100 members of the all-male group had joined the Capitol riot.

On January 6, 2021, following the defeat of U.S. President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, a mob of over 2000 of his supporters raided the United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C., as they sought to keep Trump in power by preventing a joint session of Congress from counting the electoral college votes to formalize the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.

Many of the rioters occupied, vandalized, and looted the building, while they also assaulted Capitol Police officers and reporters. Five people died either shortly before, during, or following the event and dozens were injured.

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