Seffner man pleads guilty to role in 2021 US Capitol riot
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WASHINGTON (AP) — A Florida man has pleaded guilty to three felony charges related to the insurrection and storming of the U.S. Capitol in January 2021.

Mitchell Todd Gardner II, 34, of Seffner, Florida, pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in the District of Columbia to civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding and assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers with a dangerous weapon, according to court records. He faces up to 45 years in prison at his Oct. 21 sentencing.

Gardner was arrested in Tampa in June 2021.

According to court documents, Gardner joined with others in objecting to Democratic President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory over former Republican President Donald Trump. A mob attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying election results, authorities said. Five people died in the violence.

According to the criminal complaint, Gardner was part of a mob just outside the lower west terrace tunnel of Congress and used a pepper spray device against officers within the tunnel area. The contents hit one officer directly in the face shield and splattered onto two other officers, officials said.

Gardner also urged other rioters to use a ladder to break into a window, prosecutors said. When the ladder was not used, Gardner stood on a window ledge outside of a Senate terrace room and damaged the window with the pepper spray device.

While inside the Capitol, Gardner waved to other rioters to come closer or into the building, officials said. He also handed another rioter what looked to be a table or desk leg, and that object was used to assault police officers, prosecutors said.

Since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 840 people have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for alleged crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, officials said. More than 250 people have been charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.

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