Former councilman pleads guilty to surging into U.S. Capitol, taking CSPAN charger

Former Parkersburg Councilman Eric Barber told a federal judge he knew he was not supposed to surge into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

“When I entered the Capitol building, I knew we weren’t supposed to be there,” Barber told U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper.

Eric Barber

Barber, who was elected to Parkersburg Council in 2016, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to two misdemeanors.

One is a count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol Building. The other is theft, an accusation that Barber stole a charging station belonging to a CSPAN employee.

“I took that without permission of CSPAN,” Barber told the judge today.

In exchange for his guilty plea, additional charges originally filed against Barber are being dropped. He also gives up his right to a jury trial, where he might have testified in his own defense.

Hundreds of people face charges from the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. They are being processed in a court system still operating under coronavirus precautions.

A mob storming the U.S. Capitol that day disrupted the constitutional duty of counting Electoral College votes and prompted the evacuations of representatives, senators and Vice President Mike Pence. One woman was fatally shot while trying to climb into the chambers, three others died from “medical emergencies” and more than 100 police officers were injured.

Of the thousands of protesters in Washington, D.C., that day, about 800 went into the Capitol, police have said.

Investigators began examining Barber’s conduct in Washington, D.C., after multiple people provided tips.

The investigators examined Barber’s own livestream video and social media posts, interviews he provided to local newspaper and television reporters about being in Washington, D.C. that day, as well as video from inside the Capitol.

As images spread of the people inside the Capitol, local people identified a man who looked a lot like Barber wearing a green combat-style helmet and a military-style field jacket.

In a YouTube video called “Shooting and Storming of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.,” the same man in a crowded doorway says “They’re giving us the building?” He then taps the helmet with both hands and begins moving toward the front as the crowd chants, “Break it down, break it down.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brenda Johnson today described security camera images that showed Barber’s movements through the Capitol.

“He took a selfie of himself inside the Rotunda and stopped at a CSPAN media station, searched through items and unplugged a power station, plugging it into a device and taking it with him,” Johnson said.

On March 3, she said, FBI agents executing a search warrant at Barber’s home found the power station being used and also identified the green army helmet.

“Did she get anything wrong?” Judge Cooper asked of Johnson’s description.

“No, that was accurate, your honor,” Barber responded.

West Virginians facing federal charges of entering the Capitol that day are Barber; Morgantown sandwich shop owner George Tanios; former Parkersburg Councilman Eric Barber, former state Delegate Derrick Evans of Wayne County, who resigned after being charged, and college senior Gracyn Courtright of Hurricane.

Courtright, who has also pleaded guilty, has a sentencing hearing at 10 a.m. Friday.

Judge Cooper set a sentencing date for Barber of 2 p.m. March 31.

“Just because you might not like the sentence I give, that will be no reason for you to withdraw from your plea agreement. Do you understand?” Cooper asked.

“I understand,” Barber responded.

Finally, Judge Cooper asked, “What is your plea?”

Barber replied, “I plead guilty to the offenses that were stated by the prosecutor’s office.”

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