Man charged in Capitol riot described as peace-loving dad

Guy Lucas, The High Point Enterprise, N.C.
·3 min read

Apr. 17—TRIAD — A Triad-area leader of a far-right extremist group not only had no plans for assaulting the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, he didn't even decide until the last minute to go to Washington, and one of his chief concerns on the trip was where to buy beer after he arrived, his attorney wrote in a new court filing.

The filing paints a picture of Charles Joseph "Charley" Donohoe, 33, of Kernersville, who is the leader of a regional chapter of the Proud Boys, as a peaceful family man with a steady job and a lifelong respect for authority. His attorney, Lisa Costner of Winston-Salem, argues that Donohue poses no risk and should be released from jail while awaiting trial.

A federal indictment accuses Donohoe and three other leaders in the Proud Boys of conspiring with other members to interfere with law enforcement officers at the Capitol and obstruct the certification of the 2020 presidential election results. Donohoe has been in federal custody since his arrest March 17 at his job in Kernersville.

The Southern Poverty Law Center calls the Proud Boys a hate group. The Proud Boys call themselves "Western chauvinists" spreading an "anti-political-correctness" and "anti-white-guilt" agenda.

A hearing is scheduled for Monday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., to determine whether Donohoe may be released.

In her filing, Costner wrote that there is no evidence that Donohoe took part in any violent acts during the riot at the Capitol or that he ever entered the Capitol.

Costner also argues that prosecutors have put the most sinister spin on the evidence they have, such as saying that instructions that Donohoe circulated for Proud Boys members not to wear their "colors" showed an attempt to plan a "stealth attack." She wrote that Donohoe's intention was that Proud Boys members not be singled out by others for attack.

And Costner dismissed messages that Donohoe posted after the riot — saying, "I stood on that front line and pushed it twice," the day's events made him feel "like a complete warrior" and, "we stormed the Capitol unarmed and took it over unarmed" — as mere braggadocio.

Costner also noted a hapless element to Donohoe's participation in the day's events: "After the rally, Donohoe had no ride back ... he was left behind by the people he originally rode with. This further supports the lack of planning and the lack of leadership on Charlie's part."

The filing includes statements by Donohoe's grandparents, Charles and Jacklyn Donohoe; his girlfriend, Stephanie Burnette; his employer, Andy Kennedy of The Brewers Kettle in Kernersville; and his identical twin brother, Liam. They all praised his demonstrations of responsibility and dependability, including becoming an Eagle Scout as a teenager and serving four years in the Marine Corps after graduating high school, and his constant devotion to his 4-year-old son, Sawyer.

Kennedy wrote that although Donohoe had worked for him for only a few months before his arrest, he had known Donohoe for more than two years as "a kind, selfless, reliable and hardworking father" who is "honest to a fault." But, Kennedy wrote, "His mouth gets him into trouble."