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Wichita man arrested for crimes related to Jan. 6 breach at U.S. Capitol

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 4:02 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. [KWCH] - A Wichita man faces federal charges following his arrest in connection with the Jan. 6 breach at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Charges against 37-year-old Michael Eckerman include assaulting, resisting or impeding officers, obstruction of official proceeding and disorderly conduct in a capitol building. Eckerman faces eight federal charges, a criminal complaint shows.

An affidavit detailed the case against Eckerman, backed by photo evidence and accounts from witnesses. A special agent with the FBI reported that an anonymous tipster provided an image of Eckerman inside the capitol, showing the Wichita man wearing a load-bearing tactical vest and red Trump hat, posing in front of a painting of George Washington. The tipster said Eckerman had sent photos to friends from Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6.

The affidavit said another anonymous tipster identified a photo from a Facebook post related to the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, also showing the man identified as Eckerman. A review of body worn camera footage from Jan. 6, “captures an individual consistent in appearance with the individual captured in the photographs submitted by [the tipsters],” the affidavit said.

“In that footage, the individual believed to be Eckerman can also be seen on Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Officers’ body worn cameras yelling at officers as they try to keep individuals from advancing up to the Capitol. Eckerman is standing at the edge of the crowd near to where the officers are being attacked by rioters,” the affidavit said.

From inside the Capitol, footage showed that Eckerman and two people with him entering the Captial through the Senate wing door.

“The video shows Eckerman [wearing the same clothing as depicted in the photographs from Tipster-1 and Tipster-2] and his associates making their way into and through the Capitol,” the affidavit said.

Inside the capitol, the affidavit said surveillance footage observed Eckerman pushing his way through the crowd up to one of the officers and appearing to push the officer backwards several feet.

“The e interaction allows the crowd to begin moving past the police line. Eckerman then makes his way up a set of stairs to the second floor Statuary Hall,” the affidavit said.

The officer identified as the officer who Eckerman appeared to push told investigators that the man later identified as Eckerman “made his way to the front of the crowd and pushed him with aggressive force.”

“The push caused [the officer] to lose his balance and fall down a small set of stair,” the affidavit said. “After being knocked to the ground, [the officer] was sprayed in the face with a fire extinguisher by an unknown individual.”

Based on review of additional video, the affidavit said Eckerman proceeded through Statuary Hall, accompanied by two companions cloaked with American flags.

“Once through Statuary Hal, Eckerman again pushes his way through the crowd until he is front of another police line. He can be seen yelling at officers for several minutes until the crowd pushes its way through the Capitol Police Officers toward the House of Representatives side of the Capitol,” the affidavit said.

The affidavit shared footage that shows the man identified as Eckerman eventually making his way down a hallway to near the back entrance of the House Chamber where a capitol officer fataly shot Ashli Babbitt as she attempted to climb through one of the doors where glass was broken out to access the House Chamber, the affidavit said.

“Just after the shooting, video captures Eckerman and his companions exiting the Capitol through the upper House doors,” the affidavit said.

The special agent reported locating several phone numbers that were in contact with Eckerman on or around Jan. 6. From those, a witnesses confirmed the number belonging to Eckerman and positively identified him in photos from the Capitol on Jan. 6, the affidavit said.

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