Skip to main content

No Freedom for ‘Zip Tie Guy’: Judge Blocks Release of Eric Gavelek Munchel


Eric Gavelek Munchel

A federal judge has blocked the release of Eric Gavelek Munchel, 30, the D.C. insurrection defendant better known as “zip tie guy.” There’s a still a chance he could be released pending trial, but Beryl A. Howell, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, wants to review a Tennessee magistrate judge’s prior decision.

Supporters of then-President Donald Trump raided the Capitol Building on January 6 after he continued to lie that he actually won the 2020 presidential election and it was being stolen from him. Five people died amid the chaos: four Trump supporters and one Capitol police officer. Munchel stood out from among the rioters for hopping around the Senate chamber while holding flex cuffs. It was disturbing, considering fears of what insurrections might do to any elected officials they ran into. Some chanted “hang Mike Pence” (who Trump threw under the bus), and a number made it a point to gallivant through the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In light of this chaos, the image of Munchel was certainly freaky, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffery S. Frensley ordered his release on bail. Under questioning from the court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ben Schrader acknowledged that there was no evidence Munchel had any negative interactions with law enforcement.

Frensley admitted his ruling was “counterintuitive,” but noted that videos showed Munchel showing deference to police officers. The defendant showed “apparent and clear respect for law enforcement,” he said.

“Mr. Munchel is entitled to his opinions,” he said. “They are protected by the Constitution. He doesn’t have a right to do what he did, but that’s an issue for another day.”

Munchel’s co-defendant, his mother Lisa Marie Eisenhart, 56, has said that they found the restraints on top of an opened cabinet in the Capitol Building. She claimed that they picked these up to keep these from falling into the hands of “bad actors,” she told The Tennessean.

Munchel’s lawyer Caryll S. Alpert said that her client went into the Capitol to protect his mother. It was Eisenhart’s decision to follow the mob, she said. During cross-examination, the attorney got an FBI agent to confirm that Munchel was mostly following his mother around during that time.

An FBI agent testified that they found items including a tactical vest and about 15 firearms at Munchel’s Nashville home.

As part of their case to keep him locked up, prosecutors cited Munchel’s apparently exuberant attitude during the insurrection.

“Fucking ready to fuck shit up,” he allegedly told his mother. Under questioning from the judge, however, Schrader acknowledged that there was no evidence Munchel destroyed property.

Colin Kalmbacher and Adam Klasfeld contributed to this article.

[Image via Win McNamee/Getty Images]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime: