Ex-police chief who brought hatchet to Capitol on Jan. 6 gets 11 years

A former California police chief who brought a hatchet to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, has been sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for his role in the siege.

Alan Hostetter, who spewed conspiracy theories during his trial and again at his sentencing hearing Thursday, was found guilty of multiple felony charges, including conspiracy, in July.

The Justice Department said Hostetter drove from his home state of California to Washington, D.C., before Jan. 6 instead of flying "so that he could load his car with weapons." Federal prosecutors said he met up with others on the morning of the attack and brought "tactical gear, a helmet, hatchets, knives, stun batons, pepper spray, and other gear for himself and others." He attended the rally at the White House Ellipse before walking to the Capitol, carrying a hatchet in his backpack, according to prosecutors.

He joined a group who pushed through a line of police officers guarding a lower terrace on the west side of the Capitol. Once on the upper level, Hostetter shouted, "The people have taken back their house. Hundreds of thousands of patriots showed up today to take back their government!"

In arguments Thursday, a Justice Department attorney recounted Hostetter's actions and said he was "a terrorist" on Jan. 6. The prosecutor cited Hostetter's comments in the days before the attack, in which he allegedly said, "Choke that city off. Fill it with patriots." He urged others to "put the fear of God into members of Congress."

Alan Hostetter speaks during a pro-Trump rally in Santa Ana, California, on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. / Credit: Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images
Alan Hostetter speaks during a pro-Trump rally in Santa Ana, California, on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. / Credit: Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

In a nearly hour-long statement asking for leniency, Hostetter claimed the 2020 election was "stolen" and unfurled a series of other baseless theories, including an assertion that Jan. 6 was a "false flag" operation orchestrated by the federal government. He alleged there were "crisis actors" amid the mob, claiming "hundreds, if not thousands" of people were part of an intentional "set-up" by the government meant to ensnare protesters.

Hostetter also referenced presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy, who referred to Jan. 6 as an "inside job" at the Republican debate in Alabama on Wednesday. Hostetter said the comment is an indication that his beliefs are no longer "fringe" theories.

Judge Royce Lamberth, who found Hostetter guilty earlier this year, proceeded to hand down one of the longest sentences issued in any of the roughly 1,200 cases related to Jan. 6 that have been brought to date. In sentencing Hostetter to 135 months in prison, Lamberth said, "The First Amendment doesn't give anybody the right to obstruct, impede or carry weapons into restricted areas."

During his lengthy statement in court, Hostetter also referred to Ashli Babbitt, a member of the riotous mob who was fatally shot by police as she was climbing through a window just outside the House chamber, near trapped members of Congress. Hostetter said he doesn't believe Babbitt was actually killed and that the reports of her death are part of a "psyop."

Babbitt's mother was in the court watching Hostetter's hearing at the time. She told CBS News she was gravely offended by Hostetter's words, but disagrees with the length of the sentence issued, calling it excessive.

Hostetter will report to federal prison in early January, around the three-year mark of the Capitol siege. He said he will appeal his conviction.

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