Warren Man Arrested in Connection with Capitol Siege
UPDATE 4:26 p.m.: Following his preliminary hearing, Stephen Ayres has been released on $20,000 bond with special release conditions. He can not travel to Washington, D.C., except for matters related to his trial and is not allowed to leave the Northern District of Ohio. His next hearing will be Feb. 8.
WARREN, Ohio – A Warren man has been arrested by the FBI in relation to the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol Building.
Stephen M. Ayres, 38, is being charged with obstruction of justice/Congress, unlawful entry into restricted buildings or grounds and violent entry or disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, according to a criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Ayres posted a video of himself entering the Capitol on Jan. 6 on Facebook, states an affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Austin Price. Four days later, he and two others – unnamed in the documents – posted another video describing their experiences inside the building, which was eventually taken down or made private. On Jan. 16, law enforcement accessed a YouTube video that was determined to be the same as what Ayres had posted.
In the video Ayres and “Male 1” say they “walked right into the Capitol building” after “Antifa breached the door” and that police “basically let everyone walk in.” The two say police guided the rioters through building because “they just wanted that footage of people inside the Capitol building to make it seem like all the Trump people bum-rushed the Capitol.”
Ayres also made several Facebook posts saying that if President Donald Trump wasn’t declared the winner of the November election, a “Civil War will ensue” and that “we are going to hear about [how] all the Ds are being tried for treason.” He also made several posts about the Jan. 6 rally in the weeks leading up to the event, urging supporters to “stand up and act.”
Ayres will make his initial court appearance at 2:30 p.m. Monday.
In central Ohio, Dustin Thompson and Robert Lyon also face preliminary charges of illegally entering the Capitol and violent and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Thompson is also accused of stealing the coat rack.
Thompson did not comment as he approached the federal courthouse in Columbus on Monday morning. His attorney, Sam Shamansky, did not comment but promised a response after the hearing. Lyon’s public defender declined comment.
Federal magistrate Judge Chelsey Vascura released both Thompson and Lyon on their own recognizance without posting bail following a short hearing. They weren’t required to enter a plea.
Both must surrender their passports and can’t travel out of Ohio unless it’s to Washington, D.C., and then only for appearing in court, where their case will be prosecuted.
Thompson faces up to 2 1/2 years in prison if convicted, and Lyon faces up to 18 months in prison if convicted.
Lyon told FBI agents the two drove to Washington together and that it was Thompson’s idea to go. The two had known each other for a few years and had met at a university, according to an FBI affidavit detailing the alleged crimes.
Lyon initially said they became separated when they arrived at the Capitol. Lyon told investigators he was not inside the Capitol, but security images show that he was, according to the affidavit.
In one video taken inside the Capitol, Thompson yelled, “Wooooo! ’Merica Hey! This is our house!” the FBI said.
Other video shows Thompson entering the Capitol, going into an office, then leaving the Capitol a few minutes later holding a bottle of bourbon. Video then shows Thompson returning to the Capitol with Lyon, entering the office again, and then leaving with the coat rack, the affidavit said.
After the riot, two Capitol police officers came across Thompson, who was wearing a Trump 2020 hat and a bullet proof vest, and Lyon, who had a Trump 2020 flag, according to the FBI.
Thompson ran away but Lyon stayed and cooperated, the affidavit said. The FBI interviewed Lyon at his house in Columbus on Jan. 11.
Authorities have charged several other Ohioans with breaching the Capitol, among them Donovan Crowl and Jessica Watkins of Champaign County and Cleveland school occupational therapist Christine Priola.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The full affidavit for Stephen Ayers can be read HERE.
Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.