The North Carolina man who was facing an attempted murder charge when he breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 had admitted to assaulting a police officer.
Matthew Jason Beddingfield, 22, admitted in a plea agreement hearing Thursday that during the melee at the Capitol, when Donald Trump supporters swarmed the building hoping to stop certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral win, he attacked U.S. Capitol Police officers with a metal flagpole.
The pole had an American flag attached to it at the time, according to court documents. He is seen jumping over a police barricade, and charging — flagpole in hand — toward the group of police officers near the scaffolding set up for the pending Biden inauguration.
As the mob surrounded the officers at 1:06 p.m., Beddingfield jabbed at them with the flagpole. He then throws a metal rod — allegedly taken from a bike rack used as a barricade — at law enforcement officials.
After spending more than an hour outside the Capitol, he eventually breached the building at 2:38 p.m., almost a half-hour after rioters initially broke through, the Justice Department said in a news release announcing Beddingfield’s guilty plea.
Once inside, prosecutors say, he went into the Rotunda before joining a group of rioters attempting to storm the Senate Wing of the building. Although he was at the front of the pack and encouraging others to join him, according to the Justice Department, he retreated after officers used chemical spray against the crowd.
He didn’t leave the building at that time, however. Instead, prosecutors say, he continued walking around the Capitol, eventually entering the office of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican who took over as Speaker of the House in January 2023.
Beddingfield eventually exited the building at 3:07 p.m. after spending some 30 minutes inside.
Under the plea agreement, Beddingfield faces a statutory maximum of eight years in prison and potential financial penalties. He was initially facing a slew of charges, including an additional assault charge and a charge of engaging in physical violence on restricted grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon, a 10-year felony, plus a handful of disorderly conduct and trespassing misdemeanors.
At the time of his participation in the Capitol attack, Beddingfield was out on bail for attempted murder in connection with a shooting outside a Walmart.
He pleaded guilty in August of 2021 to one count of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and was sentenced to probation. His probation officer confirmed Beddingfield’s identity to federal investigators before his arrest for the Jan. 6 riot in February of 2022.
U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee, set sentencing for June 22.
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