District of Columbia Man Pleads Guilty to Felony Charge for Actions 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 his actions during the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. His and others’ actions disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress convened to ascertain and count the electoral votes related to the presidential election.

            Joshua Pruitt, 40, formerly of Washington, D.C., pleaded guilty in the District of Columbia to a charge of obstruction of an official proceeding. According to court documents, on Jan. 6, 2021, Pruitt attended a rally and met with members of the Proud Boys, a group that describes itself as a “pro-Western fraternal organization for men who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world; aka Western Chauvinists.” At approximately 12:30 p.m., he began marching from the area of the rally to the Capitol. At about 2:10 p.m., he was illegally on the restricted grounds of the Northwest Lawn. He was wearing a tactical glove with knuckle pads. He saw rioters push through a line of law enforcement officers and advance up the stairs to the Upper West Terrace. Pruitt followed them, using a piece of fencing as a makeshift ladder to climb on onto the stairs.

            Pruitt advanced up the stairs and toward the Capitol building. He leapt over a railing before entering the Capitol through the Senate Wing Door at approximately 2:14 p.m. He threw a wooden sign, and he was one of the first rioters to enter the Crypt.  After rioters breached the police line in the Crypt, Pruitt moved toward the Capitol Visitor’s Center. There, he picked up a chair and tossed it. He then continued in the direction of the Senate subway. Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and his security detail – who had evacuated from the Senate Chamber — walked up a ramp toward the elevators in the northern part of the Visitor’s Center. A member of the security detail saw Pruitt approaching.  As a result, Senator Schumer and his security detail reversed course, running away from the elevator and back down the ramp. 

            Pruitt climbed out a window to leave the building at approximately 2:52 p.m. He was arrested the night of Jan. 6 for violating a curfew in place in Washington, and federal charges were filed against him the next day.

            He is to be sentenced on Aug. 26, 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 16 months since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 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.