A Pittsburgh-area man who had allegedly expressed a need to kill Joe Biden and had told acquaintances that he would “storm the fukin capital [sic]” on Jan. 6 if then-President Donald Trump told him to do so has admitted to a felony charge in the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Kenneth Grayson, 53, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to civil disorder, a felony. The charge carries a maximum five-year prison sentence and up to three years of supervised release. He appeared Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan.
As Law&Crime previously reported, an FBI agent who had reviewed Grayson’s cell phone data had testified that the defendant had expressed a “need to kill” Biden, who had beat Trump in the 2020 presidential election. He was pictured wearing a black Pittsburgh Pirates baseball cap and a black hooded sweatshirt with the letter “Q” in yellow over his right lapel — a sign that authorities traced to his belief in the QAnon conspiracy theory.
At the hearing, Grayson acknowledged that he had rented a car to drive himself and others to Washington and attended Trump’s so-called “Stop the Steal” rally at the Ellipse. He then walked to the Capitol with scores of other Trump supporters, at which time he saw law enforcement officers trying to stop people from entering the building.
Starting at around 2:22 p.m. — just moments after the initial breach of the building — Grayson started live-streaming video to Facebook from inside the Capitol, court documents say. He acknowledged Tuesday that he streamed video from inside the Capitol Crypt and Rotunda, and that he later joined a group of rioters pushing against a row of law enforcement officers. Although Grayson had briefly stepped away from that group of rioters, he admitted to joining them again after another rioter yelled at the crowd to push against the officers.
According to the affidavit in support of Grayson’s arrest, he had traveled to Washington in November and December of 2020. Prosecutors say his own text messages from that time indicate that he engaged in violence.
“We were smashing bro,” Grayson wrote on Nov. 16, 2020, according to the affidavit. “[W]ent to the van I rented and geared up..had to leave at 7pm though, it wasn’t really bad yet..I was beating commies with a flag pole I picked up and looked like it wasn’t going to be that bad Proud Boys were everywhere..cops weren’t doing a fukin thing watching old people get fucked with it was sickening[.]”
“I left one unconscious so I did my little part and got the fuck out before I got arrested[,]” he also wrote, according to prosecutors.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Grayson acknowledged he had sent a Facebook message in December to family and friends that essentially laid out what he intended to do on Jan. 6.
“I’m there for the greatest celebration of all time after Pence leads the Senate flip!!” Grayson wrote (emphasis and spelling errors in original). “OR IM THERE IF TRUMP TELLS US TO STORM THE FUKIN CAPITAL IMA DO THAT THEN! We don’t want any trouble but they are not going to steal this election that I guarantee bro!!”
Prosecutors say that in this same message, Grayson boasted that he’s “on the front line every time mother fuckers!” and used an anti-gay slur.
On Jan. 4, Grayson allegedly insisted in a text message that he would be in Washington “with a group going to fight not hang out[.]”
At Tuesday’s hearing, Grayson told Chutkan, a Barack Obama appointee, that he didn’t know that Congress was in the process of certifying Biden’s electoral victory when he entered the Capitol and joined the scrum of protestors pushing against a police line.
“I had no clue,” he said.
“When you joined the group of rioters pushing against the row of law enforcement officers, did you know those officers were engaged in their official duty?” Chutkan pressed, seeking to confirm that Grayson was admitting to a key element of the civil disorder offense.
“Yes, Your Honor,” the defendant said.
Grayson also acknowledged that he knew at the time that he didn’t have permission to enter the Capitol.
During the hearing, prosecutor Maria Fedor told the judge that prosecutors had previously issued a plea offer to Grayson, but withdrew it upon discovering a video of the defendant apparently participating in the crowd pushing against police.
Chutkan set Grayson’s sentencing for Dec. 19.
[Images via FBI court filings.]
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