District of Columbia Man Pleads Guilty to Felony Charge for Offenses Committed During Jan. 6 Capitol Breach

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

            WASHINGTON – A District of Columbia man pleaded guilty today to a felony charge for assaulting law enforcement officers during the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, which disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress that was in the process of ascertaining and counting the electoral votes related to the presidential election.

            Mark K. Ponder, 56, pleaded guilty in the District of Columbia to assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers using a dangerous weapon. According to court documents, on Jan. 6, Ponder assaulted three police officers in a series of incidents in the western portion of the Capitol grounds.

            At approximately 2:31 p.m., after rioters overwhelmed police lines in the West Plaza, Ponder ran out from the crowd and swung a long, thin pole at a U.S. Capitol Police officer. The officer protected himself by raising his riot shield above his head. Ponder’s pole struck the riot shield and broke in two, with part of the pole flying off to the side. Ponder then retreated into the crowd. Moments later, he re-armed himself with a new, thicker pole that was colored with red, white, and blue stripes. At approximately 2:32 p.m., he ran toward a second U.S. Capitol Police officer who also was able to block the pole with his riot shield. Then at 2:48 p.m., Ponder joined a crowd of rioters that faced off against a line of officers with the Metropolitan Police Department in the Upper West Terrace. He swung the same striped pole and banged it against the ground in a menacing manner. Then, as the police officers advanced to move the crowd, Ponder wildly swung the pole at the advancing police line, striking an officer in the left shoulder.

            Ponder was arrested on March 17, 2021, in Washington, D.C. He is to be sentenced on July 18, 2022. He faces a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

            The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Department of Justice National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. The case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department.

            In the 15 months since Jan. 6, 2021, nearly 800 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including over 250 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. The investigation remains ongoing.

            Anyone with tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or visit tips.fbi.gov.