Skip to main content

Accused U.S. Capitol Rioter Charged With Spraying and Prodding Police, Then Taunting Them About the Second Amendment


Sean McHugh

Reportedly in the crosshairs of a federal criminal investigation, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) shocked many by tweeting out hours before his party blocked an inquiry into the U.S. Capitol siege: “The Second Amendment is about the ability to maintain, within the citizenry, an armed rebellion against the government if that becomes necessary.”

A just-arrested U.S. Capitol rioter allegedly echoed similar sentiments to the police officers he allegedly assaulted on Jan. 6th.

“There is a second amendment behind us,” 34-year-old Sean Michael McHugh allegedly taunted officers, according to his criminal complaint. “What are you going to do then?”

Arrested on Friday, McHugh faces eight charges, including assaulting law enforcement with a deadly weapon.

Like several others at the assault on the Capitol, McHugh stands accused of spraying police with chemicals. Prosecutors say McHugh helped fellow rioters push a large metal sign into the officers and yelled: “Put it up there! Put it up there!”

McHugh’s Second Amendment taunt was captured on police body-worn camera footage, prosecutors say, extensively quoting from footage of the California man screaming through a megaphone at around 1:30 p.m. that day.

“You guys like protecting pedophiles?” McHugh allegedly asked at one point, in what appears to be a reference to the QAnon conspiracy theory imagining a vast plot of Democratic politicians aligned with elite child-eating sexual abusers worldwide.

“You’re protecting communists!” McHugh is also quoted exclaiming, in addition to the profane line: “I’d be shaking in your little shit boots too.”

Prosecutors claim: “Several videos feature McHugh encouraging the crowd with his megaphone to intimidate officers and approach the police line.”

The FBI’s affidavit contains multiple still images showing a yellow spray that McHugh allegedly deployed using a canister attached to his hip via a holster.

McHugh was arrested and had his first court appearance in the Eastern District of California on Friday. That same day, Senate Republicans killed a commission to investigate what many lawmakers have called the “domestic terrorist attack” on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6th.

“An insurrection without consequences — without even a proper investigation — is a dress rehearsal for another insurrection,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) wrote in a statement about the vote, slamming all but six GOP senators for voting against even considering the commission.

“My Republican colleagues still fear the truth and the wrath of Donald Trump,” Durbin wrote.

Shortly before that vote, federal prosecutors in a case against various members of the Oath Keepers revealed more about an alleged plot to storm Washington, D.C. with guns by boat by way of the Potomac River. The militia group’s leader allegedly planned to avail himself of his Second Amendment rights, and then some, by having a group of people on “standby” to ferry firearms to fellow extremists should a “worst case scenario” transpire. The same leader, who has not yet been charged, wrote a message conceiving of a scenario in which former President Trump “calls us up as part of the militia to to assist him inside DC.”

At least five people died during and after the assault on the Capitol, and at least 139 law enforcement officers were injured, prosecutors say.

Read the criminal complaint against McHugh below:

(Photo via DOJ)

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime:

Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."