A Wichita man has been arrested by federal authorities on charges that he assaulted Capitol Police officers and committed other crimes during the Jan. 6 riot in Washington.
Michael Eckerman, 37, is charged with multiple counts that include assaulting, resisting or impeding officers, obstruction of an official proceeding and disorderly conduct in the Capitol building. The most serious count alleges he helped break a police line by pushing an officer down stairs.
Eckerman was identified as a participant in the Jan. 6 riot by two tipsters who recognized him in photos posted on social media and other public photo sites, according to an affidavit filed by Corey Green, a special agent with the FBI.
“The person depicted in the photographs from Tipster-1 and Tipster-2 is consistent in appearance with Eckerman’s Kansas driver’s license photograph,” said the arrest warrant affidavit.
The man in the photographs was dressed in quasi-military garb, a black shirt and pants and a cartridge vest. He wore a red Trump cap.
The affidavit alleges Eckerman was present when rioter Ashli Babbit was shot to death by police as she attempted to climb through a broken window and gain access to the chambers of the House of Representatives, where Congress members were being evacuated.
It also quotes an interview of the man believed to be Eckerman posted by the web site “FreedomNews.tv.”
“I don’t know her (Babbit’s) name, all I know is we went there as patriots,” the affidavit quotes him from the video. “She is dead because we’re here. These mother (expletive) are traitors, they are (expletive) traitors!”
The affidavit continues: “In this video, the companions from the Facebook photograph provided by Tipster-2 are observed pulling who we believe to be Eckerman away from the camera.”
A Justice Department statement confirmed that Eckerman has been arrested and made a first appearance at the federal courthouse in Wichita on Monday.
The attack of the capitol took place as both houses of Congress were meeting in joint session to certify the election of President Joe Biden.
The most serious charge against Eckerman is that he shoved a Capitol Police officer, creating a break in a police line that was holding rioters at bay.
“At approximately 2:27 pm, Eckerman is observed on surveillance cameras pushing his way toward the front of the crowd where uniformed U.S. Capitol Police Officers have stopped the push of rioters,” the affidavit said. “Eckerman pushes his way through the crowd up to one of the officers until he is face to face with the officer.”
The officer, identified as K.Y. in the documents, testified that Eckerman pushed him down a short set of stairs and that an unknown rioter sprayed him in the face with a fire extinguisher.
“He appears to push the officer backwards several feet. The interaction allows the crowd to begin moving past the police line. Eckerman then makes his way up a set of stairs to the second floor Statuary Hall.”
From there, he went to the Rayburn Reception Room near the Democratic cloakroom off the House of Representatives’ chamber.
“After leaving the Rayburn Reception Room, video footage captures Eckerman making his way down the hallway toward the east stairs near H208 at approximately 2:42 pm.,” the affidavit said. “This location is near the back entrance to the House Chamber, where Ashli Babbitt was shot by a law enforcement officer as she attempted to climb through one of the doors where glass was broken out to access the House Chamber.”
A social media image attached to the affidavit shows the man identified as Eckerman with three others and the caption: “These are the people from Kansas that was there when the girl got shot.”
A National Public Radio timeline of events places the Babbit shooting at 2:44 pm.
“Just after the shooting, video captures Eckerman and his companions exiting the Capitol through the upper House doors at approximately 2:44,” the affidavit said.
Contributing: Chance Swaim of The Eagle