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Judge blocks release of zip tie rioter

James Crump
·2-min read
<p>Protesters enter the Senate Chamber on 6 January 2021 in Washington, DC</p> ((Getty Images))

Protesters enter the Senate Chamber on 6 January 2021 in Washington, DC

((Getty Images))

A federal judge has blocked the release of a man who was arrested after he was pictured carrying zip ties around the Congressional chamber during the riots at the US Capitol.

Eric Gavelek Munchel, 30, was arrested alongside his mother Lisa Eisenhart, 57, on 10 January and charged with conspiracy after he was seen wearing a tactical vest and carrying zip ties in the Capitol, alongside a mob of pro-Trump rioters on 6 January.

At a hearing last week in Tennessee, magistrate judge Jeffrey Frensley ordered that Mr Munchel could be released from custody on Monday.

Judge Frensley felt that Mr Munchel was not a flight risk and posed no harm to the public, despite claims by prosecutors that his offences were serious enough for him to be retained in custody pending trial.

The judge noted that Mr Munchel appeared to have respect for law enforcement officials, and did not cause any destruction while inside the Capitol.

Prosecutors disputed those claims, writing that Mr Munchel could “make no serious claim that he went to the Capitol” for a peaceful protest.

“It is difficult to fathom a more serious danger to the community — to the District of Columbia, to the country, or to the fabric of American Democracy — than the one posed by armed insurrectionists, including the defendant, who joined in the occupation of the United States Capitol,” the prosecutors added.

US District Judge Beryl A Howell listened to the prosecutors’ arguments on Sunday and blocked Mr Munchel’s release from custody.

She also ordered that he be brought to Washington, DC, for further proceedings while she considers the case, according to CBS News.

It is currently unclear when Mr Munchel will appear before a judge to face his next detention hearing.

In a court filing submitted last Wednesday by the Department of Justice (DOJ), the agency claimed that Mr Munchel stashed weapons outside the Capitol on the day of the riots and had an arsenal of them at home.

In a video that Mr Munchel filmed on the day that has been obtained by the DOJ, the 30-year-old was told by Ms Eisenhart: “We're going straight to federal prison if we go in there with weapons.”

Mr Munchel responded that he needed to take his “weapons off before I go in there,” before they allegedly stashed them close to the Capitol building in a tactical bag.

The DOJ filing alleges that shortly after, Mr Munchel said that he was ready to commit “treason” and announced that he was “f*****g ready to f**k s**t up,” before he entered the Capitol.

During a search of his residence on 9 January, the authorities also discovered 15 firearms in a gun safe, including shotguns, pistols, assault rifles, a sniper rifle, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Mr Munchel and his mother have since been charged with illegally entering the Capitol and federal conspiracy.

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