The Capitol riot's 'zip-tie guy' appeared to take the plastic handcuffs from Capitol police, prosecutors say

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zip tie guy capitol eric munchel
Prosecutors identified these people in the Senate chamber during the Capitol riot as Eric Munchel and his mom, Lisa Eisenhart. Win McNamee/Getty Images
  • Eric Munchel, the "zip-tie guy," was photographed storming the Capitol while carrying plastic handcuffs.

  • Prosecutors initially raised questions about whether rioters intended to take lawmakers hostage.

  • But a new filing says Munchel and his mom took the restraints from police after entering the building.

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Related: What it was like in the middle of the pro-Trump mob at the Capitol

Eric Munchel, a pro-Trump rioter who stormed the Capitol building while holding plastic handcuffs, took the restraints from a table inside the Capitol building, prosecutors said in a court filing Wednesday.

Munchel, who broke into the building with his mom, was labeled "zip-tie guy" after he was photographed barreling down the Senate chamber holding the restraints. His appearance raised questions about whether the insurrectionists who sought to stop Congress from counting Electoral College votes on January 6 also intended to take lawmakers hostage.

But according to the new filing, Munchel and his mother took the handcuffs from within the Capitol building - apparently to ensure the Capitol Police couldn't use them on the insurrectionists - rather than bring them in when they initially breached the building.Â

"At one point, MUNCHEL spots plastic handcuffs on a table inside a hallway in the Capitol. MUNCHEL exclaims, 'zipties. I need to get me some of them motherf---ers," and grabs several white plastic handcuffs from on top of a cabinet," the filing says, adding: "As MUNCHEL and [his mother, Lisa Eisenhart,] are attempting to leave, Eisenhart says words to the effect of, 'Don't carry the zip ties, just get 'em out of their hand.'"

Prosecutors submitted the filing in an effort to keep Munchel, who was arrested on January 10, detained until his trial.

He and Eisenhart each face several charges in relation to their actions at the Capitol building and are among at least 169 people currently charged.

Much of the evidence included in the filing was taken from videos recorded by Munchel himself: He kept an iPhone mounted to his chest that recorded him at then-President Donald Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally, and showed him later invading the Capitol building, prosecutors say.

Mixed messages about hostages

In the detention memo for Munchel, the new filing says he and his mom "followed after" two Capitol Police officers while carrying the handcuffs.

It also notes that he was "dressed for combat," wearing "combat boots, military fatigues, a tactical vest, gloves, and a gaiter that covered all of his face except for his eyes" and a "taser at his hip." It says his mom, too, wore a tactical vest.

Video footage reviewed by prosecutors also suggests Munchel and his mother carried weapons while in Washington, DC - despite the district's strict gun laws - and abandoned them only before they got into the building.

"We're going straight to federal prison if we go in there with weapons," Eisenhart told Munchel before they entered the Capitol building, according to prosecutors.

"We can put 'em in the backpacks," Eisenhart then said, before stashing "tactical bags" outside the building, according to prosecutors.

Overall, the Department of Justice has given mixed messages about the rioters' plans.

In a filing seeking the detention of "QAnon Shaman" Jacob Chansley, for example, prosecutors said he planned to "capture and assassinate elected officials" before walking back on that claim.

qanon shaman jacob chansley jake angeli capitol riot insurrection siege
Supporters of US President Donald Trump, including Jake Angeli (C), a QAnon supporter known for his painted face and horned hat, enter the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

In another filing, for retired Air Force officer Larry Rendall Brock Jr., who was also photographed carrying handcuffs, prosecutors said he "meant to take hostages."

The rioters themselves have offered different reasons for why they acted. Some are members of far-right organized groups like The Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers who planned their activities in advance, according to prosecutors. Others have said they simply acted upon Trump's command to march up to the Capitol and "fight" by trying to stop Congress from confirming President Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 election.

And the intentions of some remain unclear, like those of Riley Williams, who took a laptop belonging to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and allegedly planned to sell it to Russian spies.

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