WASHINGTON – A Kansas man pleaded guilty today to two felonies related to his actions during the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. His actions and the actions of others disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress convened to ascertain and count the electoral votes related to the 2020 presidential election.
William Chrestman, 49, of Olathe, Kansas, pleaded guilty in the District of Columbia to obstruction of an official proceeding and threatening a federal officer, both felonies. U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly accepted the plea and scheduled a sentencing hearing for Jan. 12, 2024.
According to court documents, as of January 2021, Chrestman, a second-degree member of the Proud Boys in the organization’s Kansas City chapter. Around that time, Chrestman made plans with other members to travel to Washington, D.C. to, among other things, show their support for then-President Trump and protest Congress’ certification of the Electoral College vote. On Jan. 5, 2021, Chrestman and other Proud Boys members arrived in Arlington, Virginia where they stayed at a rental home that Chrestman described as the “safe house.”
On Jan. 6, 2021, Chrestman traveled from Arlington to Washington, D.C., with others and met up with a larger group of Proud Boys near the Washington Monument. Chrestman was wearing a tactical vest and protective gloves and carried a gas mask and a wooden axe handle with a flag attached to it.
After joining the large group of Proud Boys, Chrestman marched with them in the street near the U.S. Capitol while shouting, among other things, “Whose streets? Our streets.” The group ultimately made their way to the west side of the Capitol’s grounds, outside of the restricted, fenced-off perimeter made up of barricades guarded by uniformed United States Capitol Police (USCP) officers.
At about 1:00 p.m., the crowd breached the line of barriers and surged toward the Capitol building. Chrestman and other Proud Boys he had been marching with moved forward as part of this crowd surge during this initial breach. Chrestman then moved to the front of the crowd, where he encouraged other rioters by waving them forward and shouting, “Go! Go! Go!”
Chrestman remained on the West Front of the Capitol for more than one hour, failing to leave the area and remaining unlawfully on the restricted grounds. For much of this time, he remained at the front of the crowd. While positioned here, Chrestman stood directly next to a line of USCP officers attempting to hold a perimeter. Behind that police line, from an elevated position, other USCP officers were firing less-lethal “pepper-ball” rounds at specific agitators in the crowd who were physically engaging with police.
Court documents say that Chrestman pointed his finger at the officers armed with less-lethal munitions, gestured toward them with his axe handle, and shouted in their direction, “Hey, if you shoot, I’ll f— take your a— out.” When the defendant shouted this, he stood several feet away from multiple USCP officers.
Chrestman eventually entered the Capitol building via the Senate Wing Door at approximately 2:25 p.m. Once inside, he and others, including other members of the Proud Boys, moved about the building and made their way to the Crypt. Here, Chrestman and others took steps to ensure that a large metal overhead door nearthe Crypt would remain open, allowing other rioters to move freely about the building. Specifically, Chrestman used his axe handle to prop open the door. After successfully obstructing the barrier, Chrestman and others progressed into the Capitol Visitor Center and eventually left the building via the Senate Wing Door.
At the Capitol Visitor Center, an altercation broke out between police officers and a rioter that the officers attempted to arrest. Chrestman pulled at the rioter, after which the rioter broke free from the police officers and escaped arrest.
Chrestman later said of his actions, “We had the cops running through the f— State Building [sic], dude, trying to slam the emergency doors, like, the big garage door-type ones that segregate off the rooms, and we were throwing f— chairs under there to block it dude, to keep going down… The cops were legitimately scared for their f— lives.”
This case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia with assistance provided by the Justice Department’s National Security Division. Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington and Kansas City Field Offices. Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department.
In the 33 months since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 1,100 individuals have been charged in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including more than 400 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement, a felony. The investigation remains ongoing.
Anyone with tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or visit tips.fbi.gov.
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