A married couple from Hanahan who stormed the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 pleaded guilty Thursday to criminal charges connected to the riot that caused members of Congress to flee in fear and shut down the federal building for five hours.
John Getsinger Jr. and Stacie Hargis-Getsinger were arrested in June and have been free on $75,000 unsecured bond. Surveillance tapes captured them wandering around the Capitol, at one point holding hands. Evidence against them also included their internet postings and tips to the FBI.
Of the 11 South Carolinians arrested in connection with the attack on the Capitol, five have now pleaded guilty.
The couple pleaded guilty in a hearing before U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan. They attended remotely.
According to their plea agreements, both pleaded guilty to “parading, demonstrating or picketing” in a Capitol building — a misdemeanor offense that carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison and a $5,000 fine. The pair also consented to be interviewed by federal agents about their role in events surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
There was no evidence they committed any violent acts while inside the Capitol.
Both knew they were not supposed to be in the Capitol when they followed rioters into the building through the north Rotunda doors, according to a statement of facts to which they both agreed. They remained inside for nearly 40 minutes, according to the statement.
At the time the Getsingers entered the Capitol, people in the crowd were breaking windows and “assaulting members of law enforcement as others in the crowd encouraged and assisted in those acts,” the statement said.
“In light of the dangerous circumstances caused by the unlawful entry to the U.S. Capitol, including the danger posed by individuals who had entered the US. Capitol without any security screening or weapons check, Congressional proceedings could not resume until after every unauthorized occupant had left the U.S Capitol and the building had been confirmed secured,” the statement said.
Three other counts against the Getsingers, including a charge of disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, are to be dismissed.
Sullivan will set the sentence, and will not be bound by any recommendations of prosecution or defense attorneys, according to the agreement.
According to a federal complaint in the case, tipsters alerted the FBI to postings by the Getsingers on the internet indicating the couple not only illegally breached Capitol security but were motivated by their belief in false claims that the election was stolen from former President Trump.
Four people called the FBI tip line separately to report what they knew about the Getsingers at the Capitol, according to the complaint.
One caller told the FBI that a video exists of “the Getsingers entering the Capitol Building saying, ‘This is War! We’re storming the Capitol!’” according to the criminal complaint. Another informant told the FBI that Stacie Getsinger had posted on her Facebook page, “The (presidential) election was rigged, and this ain’t over,” the complaint said.
Another tipster gave the FBI a screenshot of a post made by Stacie Getsinger in which she acknowledged being influenced at the Capitol by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who is known for spreading numerous falsehoods including, that the 2012 Sandy Hook fatal school shooting of 20 children and six adults was fake.
Stacie Getsinger wrote, ”We went to the capital (sic) after President Trumps speech. When we arrived Alex Jones was there and told us all to go to the other side of the bldg for Trumps next speech.”
The Getsingers “coordinated rides to Washington, D.C. on a public Facebook group called, ‘Berkeley County Growth & Development,’” according to a complaint in their case.
On Jan. 6, Congress convened a special joint session to formally count and accept the electoral vote in the November 2020 presidential election. Thousands of pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol during the vote, fueled in large part by false assertions by Trump and his allies that the election was stolen. Trump’s own attorney general, William Barr, told the Associated Press there was no fraud that could have influenced the presidential election.
More than 675 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the Capitol riot, including more than 210 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement, according to the U.S. Attorney’s District of Columbia.
The Getsingers will be sentenced on April 21.
Other South Carolinians facing charges are:
▪ Nicholas Languerand, of Little River, who is charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, assaulting an officer using a dangerous weapon, theft of government property and knowingly entering and remaining in a restricted government area. He pleaded guilty in November to charges of assaulting a law officer and has not yet been sentenced
▪ Andrew Hatley, who is charged with uttering threatening, or abusive language, or engaging in disorderly or disruptive conduct, at any place in the grounds or in any of the Capitol buildings with the intent to impede, disrupt, or disturb the orderly conduct of a session of Congress. He agreed to plead guilty at a Sept. 14 hearing to some of the charges against him. He pleaded guilty in September to “parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.” He has not yet been sentenced
▪ James Douglas Lollis Jr., of Greer, who is charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building, disruptive conduct in a restrictive building, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building and parading or demonstrating in a Capitol building. He pleaded guilty in November to charges of “parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.” He has not been sentenced
▪ Elias Irizarry, 19, a freshman at the Citadel military college in Charleston. He was charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, illegally knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building and knowingly engaging in disorderly or disruptive conduct in any restricted building or grounds
▪ Elliott Bishai, 20, of York County. He is charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, illegally knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building and knowingly engaging in disorderly or disruptive conduct in any restricted building or grounds
▪ William Norwood III, of Greer, who is charged with knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building without lawful authority, violent and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, obstruction of justice and theft of government property
▪ George Tenney III, 34, of Anderson, who is charged with interfering with a law enforcement officer during a civil disorder, obstruction of justice, knowingly entering a restricted building, disorderly conduct in a restricted building, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building and demonstrating in a Capitol building
▪ Derek Gunby, 41, of Anderson County, who is charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds
▪ Paul Colbath, of Fort Mill, has been charged with disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, entering and remaining in a restricted building, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building