Marine veteran sentenced to 2 years for storming Capitol on Jan. 6

A federal judge recently sentenced a Marine Corps veteran who breached the United States Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to two years in prison.

Marine veteran Alex Kirk Harkrider, 36, was convicted in a bench trial on Jan. 2 of felony charges of civil disorder and entering a restricted building with a deadly weapon, and misdemeanor charges of theft of government property, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, and parading or picketing in a Capitol building, according to a Department of Justice release. His sentencing took place on May 23.

Harkrider wore body armor and carried a tactical tomahawk on Jan. 6, 2021, as he and Ryan Taylor Nichols entered the Capitol through a broken window.

Nichols, 32, was sentenced on May 2 to more than five years in prison for assaulting a law enforcement officer during the breach.

Marine veteran agrees to plea deal in January 6 Capitol riot case

Harkrider traveled from his home of Carthage, Texas, to Washington, D.C., with Nichols in a show of solidarity for former President Donald Trump, according to court documents. They both believed that Trump won the 2020 election despite President Joe Biden’s victory. According to court documents, Harkrider thought “the election was rigged.”

By Jan. 6, 2021, the former president had filed 62 lawsuits in state and federal courts in the aftermath of his 2020 defeat, alleging widespread voter fraud, according to USA Today.

Despite his attempts to overturn the election results, out of those 62 lawsuits, Trump only won one.

A full list of all cases involving the 2020 presidential election results can be found at Ohio State University’s Major Pending Election Cases database, which provides case summaries for election law cases.

Harkrider and Nichols planned for combat in the days leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, according to the justice department release, with Nichols sending Harkrider a text message about the importance of body armor for protection from bullets.

A Snapchat photo Harkrider allegedly uploaded during the Capitol breach. (Department of Justice)
A Snapchat photo Harkrider allegedly uploaded during the Capitol breach. (Department of Justice)

When Nichols texted Harkrider that he had intelligence that Washington would be a “war zone” and that a battle would ensue, Harkrider said he was looking forward to it and would bring every “freedom blaster” he owned, according to court documents.

The same documents show they both brought two firearms with them to Washington.

Harkrider and Nichols arrived on Jan. 5, 2021, to protest the election results as Congress sought to verify the vote count for the Electoral College of the 2020 presidential election the following day.

They attended Trump’s speech during the Jan. 6, 2021, “Save America” rally at the Ellipse, a park south of the White House fence, then began their march to the Capitol.

After Nichols gave a long impassioned speech about dragging politicians through the streets, Harkrider chimed in, according to court documents.

“Cut their freaking head off! You can do it,” said Harkrider, according to court documents.

Harkrider appeared to be doing a Cajun accent in reference to Rob Schneider’s character in the 1998 film “The Waterboy” starring Adam Sandler, according to court documents.

They joined rioters in front of the Lower West Terrace doors, an area where the “most violent assaults on law enforcement officers” took place, according to the DOJ press release.

They then illegally entered the Capitol building, according to court documents.

A court affidavit alleges that Harkrider shared a photograph on Snapchat of himself while inside the Capitol.

“We’re in. 2 people killed already. We need all the patriots of this country to rally the fuck up and fight for our freedom or it’s gone forever,” read the caption for the photograph provided in the affidavit.

Twenty minutes later, they both left the building.

On his way out, Harkrider took a wooden arm from a piece of government furniture, according to court documents.

He kept the souvenir in his nightstand back home.

FBI agents arrested Harkrider nearly two weeks later on Jan. 18, 2021, in Carthage, Texas.

A booking photo of Alex K. Harkrider. (Gregg County Sheriff's Office)
A booking photo of Alex K. Harkrider. (Gregg County Sheriff's Office)

Harkrider was a veteran at the time of his arrest.

He served as a rifleman from 2008 to 2012 and deployed twice. The lance corporal received multiple awards, including the Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, among others. He was also a two-time recipient of the Navy Unit Commendation and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

He was last assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

An estimated 1,424 individuals have been charged for their part in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach, according to the justice department. Five hundred of those individuals have been charged with assault of a law enforcement officer. The investigation into “January 6 violence at the U.S. Capitol” is ongoing, according to the FBI website.

Harkrider’s defense attorney, Kira Anne West, argued during the District Court for the District of Columbia trial that Harkrider was unaware of a march to the Capitol until the very moment Trump encouraged attendees at the Ellipse rally to do so. She said Harkrider’s tomahawk was for self-defense against Antifa and Black Lives Matter protesters that reports informed him would be there.

West argued that Harkrider only entered the Capitol at the behest of individuals behind him who yelled for him to jump in to avoid tear gas from canisters that were set off.

She said her client and Nichols only stayed inside the Capitol for a few minutes, then walked to their Uber pick-up zone, got in a car, and returned to their hotel.

“There was a great deal of confusion that day,” said West in court documents, defending Harkrider’s actions as those of a patriot protesting for his county.

“Mr. Harkrider’s taken responsibility for his actions and that’s it,” West told Marine Corps Times on May 24 in a phone interview.

She commended him for being a great American and said the judge acknowledged it in the sentencing.

Harkrider suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression because, West said, he served the country in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Overall, she was proud of her time defending Harkrider.

“It was an honor and pleasure to represent a native Texan and a U.S. Marine,” said West.