- September 19, 2021
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Another West Virginian has been charged in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol mob.
Eric Barber, a former Parkersburg councilman, faces federal charges of entering a restricted building, disorderly conduct and theft. He has a preliminary hearing via video conference at 1 p.m. March 10 before the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia. He was released today on $10,000 unsecured bond.
“If you were to be convicted of any of these charges you would be exposed to years in prison,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Dwane Tinsley said in an initial hearing today.
“Yes, I do your honor,” Barber responded.
Former state Delegate Derrick Evans of Wayne County, who resigned after being charged, and college senior Gracyn Courtright of Hurricane also face consequences after being accused of entering the U.S. Capitol that day.
The mob storming the U.S. Capitol disrupted the constitutional duty of counting Electoral College votes and prompted the evacuations of representatives, senators and Vice President Mike Pence. One woman was fatally shot while trying to climb into the chambers, three others died from “medical emergencies” and more than 100 police officers were injured. Capitol Police announced one police officer died after the riot, possibly from an irritant like bear spray.
Of the thousands of protesters in Washington, D.C., that day, about 800 went into the Capitol, police have said.
Barber was elected to Parkersburg Council in 2016. He was charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction in 2017 when he showed up at a neighbor’s medical call. He was sued in 2018 over his social media comments, but the lawsuit was dismissed last year. And he was involved in an earlier firestorm over comments he made about abortion.
Investigators began examining Barber’s conduct in Washington, D.C., after multiple people provided tips.
The investigators examined Barber’s own livestream video and social media posts, interviews he provided to local newspaper and television reporters about being in Washington, D.C. that day, as well as video from inside the Capitol depicting a man in a green helmet who looked like Barber.
One of the interviews came in a Jan. 7 Parkersburg News & Sentinel article headlined “Parkersburg man shares experience from U.S. Capitol.” Some of Barber’s own photos of the protests outside the U.S. Capitol accompanied the story.
The article said, “While he said he looked in a window and couldn’t see much because of so many people inside, Barber said he did not enter the building.”
But shortly after that, as images spread of the people inside the Capitol, local people identified a man who looked a lot like Barber wearing a green combat-style helmet and a military-style field jacket.
In a YouTube video called “Shooting and Storming of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.,” the same man in a crowded doorway says “They’re giving us the building?” He then taps the helmet with both hands and begins moving toward the front as the crowd chants, “Break it down, break it down.”
FBI agent Andrew Cooper, who provided an affidavit, began examining images from Barber’s Facebook page to identify him. He also placed a call to the Parkersburg Police Department, where local officers were already aware of the claims about Barber. Through all those comparisons, Cooper concluded that the man was, in fact, Barber.
In today’s hearing before Magistrate Judge Tinsley, Barber declined an offer for a hearing to determine his identity.
Cooper also requested security footage from inside the Capitol and received six videos of the man moving through Statuary Hall and the Capitol Rotunda on Jan. 6.
“Of note, I observed Barber taking selfie photographs in the Rotunda and stopping at the C-SPAN media station located in Statuary Hall and searching through equipment that was on the stand.”
The agent determined the man searched through the items at the media stand and appeared to unplug an item, taking it with him. The C-SPAN field technician who had been operating the media stand when the Capitol was evacuated said he had left his personal power station used to charge an iPad there, and it wound up missing.
“Your affiant believes this confirms the video footage that Barber stole the powerstation located at the media station,” Cooper wrote.
That’s what led to the theft charge against Barber.
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