They came from the city, the suburbs and from deep Downstate. Some allegedly conducted themselves like brawlers, others wandered around like tourists. All have come under the federal hammer.
Nineteen people from Illinois have been charged so far for allegedly taking part in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Six have pleaded guilty. One has received a short jail sentence.
The rest are still going through the system, facing charges that, if they result in conviction, could yield anything from probation to serious time behind bars.
The courts’ slow march could soon quicken — three more sentencing hearings of Illinois defendants are scheduled to take place by early March — but people continue to enter the system: The FBI website lists more than 1,000 images of those still wanted in connection with the riot.
Chicago attorney Michael Petro represents defendant Lawrence Ligas, charged last month with disorderly conduct, entering a restricted building and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. He said while many face similar misdemeanors, no one should expect an easy ride.
“Obviously, this is one of those defining moments,” he said. “It’s just a very, very bright line event. The government is taking it very seriously.”
The Tribune attempted to contact all 19 defendants for comment. Some could not be reached, others did not return messages and a few declined to be interviewed on advice of their attorneys. Two directed a reporter to an online film about Jan. 6 that claims “everything that we are being told is a lie.”
Robert Pape, a University of Chicago political scientist who just published an analysis of the more than 700 people charged in the incursion, said the variety of the Illinois defendants matches the national profile. His research found that those arrested are much closer to the average voter than they are to violent, right-wing extremists.
Such ordinariness, he said, is worrying.
“It shows us that this is not part of the fringe — this is part of mainstream America,” he said. “That means we have to be very concerned about the 2022 election season as a tinderbox. … There’s a big change that’s happened, and that is that political violence is now coming from the mainstream.”
Here are Illinois’ accused and convicted, listed by date of arrest:
Arrested Jan. 11. Pleaded guilty in August to willfully and knowingly parading, demonstrating or picketing inside the Capitol. Received a 30-day jail sentence and was ordered to pay $500 restitution.
Rukstales was ordered this week to report on Feb. 1 to a federal penitentiary in Milan, Michigan, to serve out his sentence.
The former tech CEO was detained by police at the Capitol after he threw a chair in the direction of officers, though he denied trying to strike anyone.
“I have come to realize the weight of my actions, and immensely regret following others into the Capitol,” he said after his sentencing. “As a patriotic citizen, I hope and pray that the people of our nation will move forward united by the many commonalities we share.”
Arrested Jan. 13. Charged with entering a restricted building and disorderly conduct in the Capitol.
The resident of the Gladstone Park neighborhood was identified through an Instagram photo showing the sign outside the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He allegedly told FBI agents that he entered the building through its rear doors, and provided links to videos he took inside.
“Hello Nice FBI Lady,” Lyons emailed a special agent on Jan. 9, according to court documents. “Here are the links to the videos. Looks like Podium Guy is in one of them, less the podium. Let me know if you need anything else.”
Arrested Jan. 26. Charged with entering restricted grounds, resisting a government officer and attempting to obstruct a law enforcement officer.
The Downstate man was identified by a former neighbor who tipped federal agents to Capsel’s Facebook account, which carried the name of “Mateo Q Capsel.” That led investigators to a TikTok account that allegedly showed Capsel fighting National Guardsmen outside the Capitol, according to court documents.
“In this video, Capsel, identifiable by the tattoos on his face and neck, and wearing (a distinctive) hat, shirt, and necklace, is fighting against National Guardsmen until he is pepper sprayed, as shown in the last screenshot,” court documents say.
Arrested Jan. 28. Charged with entering a restricted building, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.
The couple, who investigators say appear to be adherents of the QAnon conspiracy movement, were identified after a tipster led agents to Jason Gerding’s Twitter account. A photo on the site showed them wearing Trump 2020 shirts and triumphantly clasping hands in the Capitol rotunda, according to court documents.
“Well since they let us inside, opened the door for us I think we’ll be just fine,” Christina Gerding allegedly responded to a Facebook critic calling for her arrest.
Arrested April 13. Charged with obstructing an official proceeding, entering a restricted building and disorderly conduct in the Capitol.
Adams, who has worked in lawn care, was identified via an interview he gave to the Insider media outlet. He allegedly told an FBI agent that he entered the building through an open door and didn’t realize it was a violent takeover until he walked over broken glass.
“I think everything was great until it went from peaceful to everyone acting like a bunch of 12-year-olds destroying things,” he told Insider.
Arrested May 28. Pleaded guilty in September to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. Received two years of probation and were ordered to pay $500 restitution.
The friends traveled to Washington to attend the rally for Trump and entered the Capitol through a breached door. According to court records, they did not participate in violence — Wangler said he told a man pounding on a window to “knock that (expletive) off” — and even asked a police officer for directions to the bathroom. A tipster identified them through a video sent over Facebook Messenger.
“I wish I had just taken a picture and headed back to the hotel,” Harrison told the judge at his sentencing. “It was not worth it.”
Christian Kulas arrested June 8; Mark Kulas charged Nov. 19. The brothers pleaded guilty in December to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building and await sentencing.
Court documents say tipsters contacted the FBI days after the incursion to say Christian Kulas was at the Capitol, and that he was seen on social media posts and surveillance images wearing a Burberry coat and a hat adorned with Trump’s campaign slogan, “Keep America Great.”
Kulas’ older brother Mark accompanied him, and though Christian Kulas cheered rioters trying to breach a police line to open a door, there was no evidence the brothers assisted, court documents said.
“(A confidential witness) viewed the videos posted by the Instagram account, and was highly confident that the individual depicted in the videos wearing the Burberry coat was (Christian) Kulas,” an affidavit reads. “(The witness) was also familiar with the sound of Kulas’s voice, and (the witness) identified Kulas as the speaker of the words ‘storming the Capitol’ in the video posted by the Instagram account.”
Arrested June 11. Charged with entering or remaining in a restricted building and violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building.
Investigators said they focused on the Chicago police officer after discovering that a device with a Google account associated with Chwiesiuk was in or near the Capitol on Jan. 6. They went on to find a selfie he allegedly took in the office of Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley; he wore a hoodie with the Chicago Police Department logo on it, court documents said.
“We inside the capital lmfao,” Chwiesiuk allegedly texted a friend.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the officer’s alleged actions were “a total disgrace to the badge.” Chwiesiuk has been on an unpaid leave of absence since August, a CPD spokesman said.
Arrested June 24. Charged with assault on a law enforcement officer and engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds.
Prosecutors allege Woods, who apparently runs a heating and air conditioning company, joined a large and belligerent crowd that had congregated on the lower west terrace of the Capitol. When someone in the crowd sprayed police with bear mace and an officer tried to pursue that person, a bystander’s video showed that Woods ran forward and tripped her, according to the criminal complaint.
Woods was captured on another video tackling a cameraman from behind, the complaint said.
“In YouTube Video #3, a publicly available video I reviewed during the course of this investigation, an individual who … appears to be Woods can also be observed walking closely around a cameraman dressed in bluejeans and a blue jacket,” an FBI agent wrote in an affidavit. “Soon after, Woods is observed running into and tackling this same cameraman as the cameraman is facing away from Woods.”
Arrested July 26. Pleaded guilty in December to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building and are awaiting sentencing.
An anonymous tip guided FBI agents to a YouTube video showing a woman inside the Capitol who wore a jacket with “Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 422 Joliet IL” on its back. Agents searched for Google accounts associated with Joliet’s 815 area code and found one associated with Amy Schubert, according to court documents. That led to the discovery of photos and videos allegedly shot by Schubert, showing her husband inside the Capitol.
Arrested Sept. 2. Charged with entering a restricted building, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.
A tipster allegedly provided FBI agents with Facebook images showing Gleffe outside the Capitol. Investigators used cellphone data to learn he had been inside for about 14 minutes, and confirmed that with footage captured by surveillance cameras, according to court documents.
Gleffe allegedly told agents that police did not stop him from entering the building, and that he did not enter any of the building’s inner rooms.
“At the conclusion of the interview, Gleffe stated he made ‘the biggest mistake going through the door’ and ‘would not do it again if I could go back,’” the criminal complaint said.
Arrested Sept. 21. Charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building.
An ex-co-worker who said he had worked with Wiersma at PCI Energy Center in Lake Bluff allegedly tipped off FBI agents that Wiersma posted on Facebook that he had entered the Capitol. Investigators found other videos and photos that allegedly showed him and Frankowski, with whom he had traveled to Washington, inside the building, according to court documents.
Frankowski told FBI agents she drove to the Washington, D.C., area with Wiersma and a third man, according to the complaint. The three of them went to the “Save America Rally,” but when the crowd marched to the Capitol building, the third person in their group stayed behind, the complaint said.
“Spent about 30 minutes inside and got out before the swat team went in,” a Facebook post allegedly tied to Wiersma reads.
Arrested Dec. 1. Charged with entering a restricted building, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building.
Ligas, a well-known political operative on Chicago’s Northwest Side, came on the federal radar after investigators learned he was quoted by name in an NPR article about the incursion. Agents found that a device associated with his Gmail account was inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, and he also allegedly appeared in video footage shot there, court documents say.
“We’re not moving on,” Ligas told NPR. ” … We are not Republicans. We are the MAGA party. We are patriots.”
Arrested Dec. 20. Charged with civil disorder, assault of a federal officer, entering restricted grounds with a dangerous weapon and carrying out an act of violence on Capitol grounds.
Elliott, whom prosecutors describe as a member of the far-right Proud Boys, was captured in online videos and body-worn camera footage among a large group of rioters trying to break through a police line outside the Capitol, prosecutors said in court.
Elliott was allegedly seen in the footage carrying an American flag on a pole that he swung at police, landing at least one glancing blow on an officer’s head.
“Patriots, what is your occupation?” Elliott allegedly shouted at others in the crowd, rewording a catchphrase from the movie “300.”