New Mexico Official Who Participated in Capitol Riot and Vowed to Return Arrested in D.C. Cowboys for Trump leader and Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin, center, talks with Republican New Mexico state Rep. Candy Ezzell of Roswell, N.M., at a protest against gun control and pro-abortion rights legislation outside the New Mexico State Capitol, in Santa Fe, N.M. (Morgan Lee/AP)
Reuters Sunday, 17 January 2021 08:42 PM
The U.S. Justice Department said on Sunday that it had arrested an elected official from New Mexico who had vowed to travel to Washington with firearms to protest President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration.
Cuoy Griffin, a New Mexico county commissioner and founder of a group called "Cowboys for Trump," was arrested in Washington on charges related to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to documents posted on the Justice Department's website.
Griffin was among the thousands who stormed the Capitol in an attempt to block Congress from certifying Democrat Biden's victory over Republican President Donald Trump, according to charging documents. He stood on the steps of the building but did not enter it.
Authorities say he returned to New Mexico after the riot, where he said at a Jan. 14 meeting of the Otero County Council that he planned to drive back to Washington with a rifle and a revolver to protest Biden's inauguration this Wednesday.
It was not immediately clear whether Griffin was carrying firearms when he was arrested on Sunday. He has been charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority.
Federal authorities have brought criminal charges against more than 100 people so far in connection with the Jan. 6 riot, in which Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol, ransacked offices and in some cases attacked police. Investigators are scouring more than 140,000 videos and photos from the siege.
U.S. officials said on Sunday they had charged Chad Barrett Jones of Kentucky with assaulting a federal officer, destruction of government property and trespassing, among other charges. Video evidence shows Jones using a wooden flagpole to try to break glass door panels in the House of Representatives, officials said.
Law enforcement officials have been bracing for further violence across the country ahead of Biden's inauguration. More than a dozen states activated National Guard troops to help secure their capitol buildings following an FBI warning of armed demonstrations by right-wing extremists. But by late Sunday afternoon, only handfuls of demonstrators had taken to the streets.