William Hendry Mellors, 50, has been charged with participating in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol building. Photo courtesy of U.S. Justice Department
July 18 (UPI) -- Federal prosecutors said a Texas man was arrested Monday on accusations of using bear spray against law enforcement protecting the U.S. Capitol building from a horde of supporters of then-President Donald Trump as they breached the facility on Jan. 6, 2021.
A criminal complaint dated Friday but made public Monday states William Hendry Mellors, 50, of Tomball, Texas, has been charged with both felony and misdemeanor offenses, including assaulting, resisting or impeding law enforcement officers using a dangerous weapon.
He was arrested in Houston and was to make his initial court appearance in the Southern District of Texas later Monday.
His charges stem from his alleged participation in the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol building during a joint session of Congress in an attempt to prevent the lawmakers from certifying Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States.
A statement of facts details how Mellors flew from Houston on Jan. 5 to participate in the planned protest and flew home afterward on Jan. 7.
The document says Mellors was among protesters attempting to enter the Capitol building and deployed at least one of two canisters of bear spray he brought with him on law enforcement barring their entrance.
According to the document, the day Mellors returned to Houston the FBI received a tip concerning his involvement in the attack. In early April, agents also found other images that appear to show Mellors spraying officers with a chemical irritant on that day.
Mellors was documented at the Capitol in video and photographs that have since been collected and made available online via databases seeking to bring about accountability for those who stormed the building.
A selection of those images and stills from video included in the statement of facts shows Mellors wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt with a white U.S. flag on the chest, a black baseball cap with a yellow Gadsden flag patch, black gloves, a black gator-style face covering and a black backpack decorated with several patches, including one that reads "Black Guns Matter."
During a late April interview with federal agents, Mellors said he joined a "rabid" crowd of protesters that was attempting to push its way into the Capitol building when at some point he felt he was hit on the right side of his head from behind, causing him to fall to the ground and his ear to bleed.
However, in posts published on his personal Parlor account, Mellor said the bloody ear was the result of "a nice beat down from Washington DC police."
"Some tear gas and a riot baton," he wrote, according to the statement of facts. "Broken ribs and some stitches needed."
Authorities issued a search warrant for his Tomball residence in late May and seized the items of clothing he was seen wearing during the capitol siege. Days later during a second interview with the FBI, he admitted that he brought two bear spray canisters to the protest.
"Mellors told agents that he expected that he would be arrested for his actions on Jan. 6, 2021," according to the statement of facts.
Since the attack, more than 850 people have been arrested nationwide, including more than 260 charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.
"The investigation remains ongoing," the Justice Department said.
The charges also come amid a series of congressional hearings in which bipartisan senators have been building a case around the notion that the attack on the Capitol was the culmination of a massive, coordinated attempt by then-President Donald Trump to hold on to power by fueling the anger of his supporters with unfounded conspiracy theories.
The next hearing is scheduled for Thursday.