A Kansas City-area Proud Boy charged in connection with the Capitol insurrection described the Jan. 6 riot in a phone call later that day, saying “I started a revolution,” according to a new court filing.
William “Billy” Chrestman made the self-recorded call after storming the Capitol, federal prosecutors allege. They included a transcript of his phone calls in a motion filed this week opposing the Olathe man’s request to be released from custody pending his trial.
Chrestman “not only celebrated his active role in the violent effort to stop the peaceful transfer of presidential power, but also demonstrated to the Court why he is a danger to the community and should not be released,” federal prosecutors argued.
According to the phone call transcript, Chrestman said that “we stormed the Capitol Building, we rushed that s---, we took that house back,” adding, “me and two others, we were first ones through the gate.”
Chrestman has been incarcerated since federal agents arrested him in February. Last month, he asked the court to reconsider its decision to detain him pending trial. In a motion filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Chrestman’s attorney argued that the Army veteran posed no safety risk and that prosecutors had no proof that he was part of any organized effort to breach the Capitol.
“The government has alleged Mr. Chrestman has ties to the group Proud Boys,” the filing said. “At this juncture, Mr. Chrestman has renounced any association with this group or its goals.”
Prosecutors weren’t buying that.
“This is not an expression of remorse for his conduct on January 6, 2021, but rather a prophylactic effort to distance himself from others with whom he joined that day,” they said in their response. “The defendant was evidently extremely proud of what he and his fellow Proud Boys accomplished after the attack.”
The government’s motion included a lengthy transcript of what it described as a portion of the recorded phone calls Chrestman made after storming the Capitol. The recordings were discovered, the motion said, after authorities found Chrestman’s cellphone while executing a search warrant.
In one call, Chrestman said, “I boxed a cop. I got part of his f------ body armor, cause I thought he was attacking one of our boys, turns out it wasn’t one of our boys...anyways, the cop was being kind of a dick...It was insane and you know what happened today? We stormed the Capitol Building and we took it over...We made f------ the House leave. Like, they couldn’t finish their vote.”
He continued: “You know how they were trying to get a million people there? I think there were like, two million people there… And they all followed us, Proud Boys. We marched straight from the Washington Memorial all the way down to the Capitol Building.”
Chrestman said his group approached a fence, according to the transcript.
“And the first fence that was up there — bunch of people were standing against it, yelling at the cops, the cops started getting nervous and then — so I kicked the fence, I said, ‘We wanna talk to the f------ House right now!’ And all these people started yelling and I kicked the f------ fence again.”
Then, Chrestman said, he and others “knocked it down and everybody rushed...we had total control.”
“I f------ started it. Yeah, I started a revolution. Because once everybody heard about this, and then we cleared out the House, they evacuated the House and everything, to stop those votes.”
Chrestman said he was wearing a black hoodie and green body armor, according to the transcript.
“And most of the time I was wearing either a black ball cap or a black beanie, but once we got up in there and we were f------ with the cops and stuff, I went and put my helmet on.”
Chrestman continued: “Before all this s--- started, people were, patriots from all over the country — no bull----, coming up askin’, ‘Are you guys Proud Boys?’
“And we’re like, ‘Uh, yeah!’ And they go, ‘Oh, my God, could we get our pictures taken with you guys? You guys are great!’ They were treating us like f------ rock stars!”
He described the scene upon entering the Capitol.
“The police were s------ bricks...And they tried to put the security doors up and we all shoved f------ chairs and stuff under and when some guys started getting out of hand, and started trying to like, loot and break s---, we’re like, ‘No, we’re not about that crap, you guys put that s--- down. We’re not here to loot, we’re not here to break anything, we’re here to make a statement.’
“And you know what? Everybody listened and out of the two million people, there was maybe 600 Proud Boys, you know?”
Chrestman told the person on the phone that because of the riot, “our membership is gonna explode,” according to the transcript.
That person then asked how to go about becoming a Proud Boy. Chrestman said, “I got fast-tracked in, but it still took me about three months. So some guys, it takes a year.”
The Proud Boys have been at the forefront of the federal investigation into the insurrection. Authorities have arrested more than two dozen Proud Boys from around the country, including several in leadership positions, on charges ranging from disorderly conduct to conspiracy to assaulting a federal officer.
Chrestman was indicted Feb. 26 along with Christopher Kuehne of Olathe; Louis Enrique Colon of Blue Springs; Ryan Keith Ashlock of Gardner; and siblings Cory and Felicia Konold of Arizona on conspiracy charges and other offenses related to the riot.
Chrestman, an unemployed union sheet metal worker, also was charged with threatening to assault a federal law enforcement officer and carrying a wooden ax handle while in the Capitol building and on the grounds.
All except Chrestman were released on a personal recognizance bond pending trial. A federal judge in Washington, D.C., in February reversed a Kansas judge’s decision to release Chrestman and ordered him to be held without bond until his trial. Prosecutors allege that Chrestman was a key player in the riot.
Chrestman’s latest motion argued that his co-defendants “have significantly more involvement in the events of 6 January leading to these allegations” and that the government did not establish a strong connection between him and the others.
The motion also said that several new factors have come to light that the court wasn’t previously aware of.
A workplace accident resulted in Chrestman suffering long-term chronic back pain, it said, and Chrestman wasn’t receiving the proper regimen of pain medications while incarcerated. The motion said Chrestman also was being treated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, major depressive disorder and insomnia, and those conditions were now going untreated.
Chrestman was receiving disability and was under the care of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the motion said, adding that “his current detention status places him in danger of losing those significant benefits.”
In the government’s response, prosecutors said that “Interestingly, the defendant’s back pain did not prevent him from storming the United States Capitol while armed with an axe handle, threatening law enforcement officers, and attempting to prevent Congressional proceedings, among other conduct.”
A hearing date on Chrestman’s motion has been set for June 24.