The owner of a Long Island funeral home was charged Wednesday with spraying insecticide at police officers guarding the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
The man, Peter G. Moloney, 58, was the latest rioter to be arrested in the Justice Department’s sprawling investigation into the mob attack. He was also accused of attacking members of the news media outside the Capitol, according to unsealed indictment documents in federal district court in Washington.
Prosecutors say Mr. Moloney, of Bayport, NY, showed up at the Capitol in a bicycle helmet and goggles, carrying a can of Black Flag Wasp, Hornet and Yellow Jacket Killer. After approaching a line of officers lined up behind metal barricades on the west side of the building, prosecutors said, he sprayed several of them with insecticide.
Mr. Moloney is expected to make his first court appearance on Wednesday before a federal judge in Central Islip, NY The US attorney’s office for the District of Columbia and the Justice Department’s counterterrorism unit are pursuing the case, with the assistance of the Eastern District of New York.
Mr Moloney was also accused of taking part in an assault on an Associated Press photographer, John Minchillo, who several rioters accused of being a member of the left-wing antifa movement. Prosecutors say Mr. Moloney grabbed Mr. Minchillo’s camera, causing him to trip down some stairs outside the Capitol, then joined others in punching and pushing him until the photographer was pushed over a wall .
In a separate attack, prosecutors say, Mr Moloney jerked another photographer’s camera and tripped him too down the stairs.
Several other rioters have been accused of attacking Mr. Minchillo, including a Pennsylvania man, Alan W. Byerly, who was sentenced in October to 34 months in prison.
Another man who admitted joining in the assault, Rodney K. Milstreed, will be sentenced next month. In a Facebook post a few days after the assault, Mr Milstreed said that « attacking Mr Michillo was worth it », adding that he had « hit him with everything God has given him ».
The charges brought against Mr. Moloney were a reminder that even two and a half years after a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol, federal authorities are still making arrests.
As of Tuesday, the Justice Department said more than 1,040 people have been charged in connection with the riot. Prosecutors have told several Washington judges that there could be up to 1,000 more people who will ultimately be charged, according to people familiar with the matter.
About a dozen people were accused, like Mr Moloney, of attacking members of the media or destroying their equipment on 6 January. that he used a deadly or dangerous weapon, according to the Justice Department.
Department officials say about 140 officers were attacked on Jan. 6, including 80 from the Capitol Police and 60 from the Metropolitan Police Department.
Mr. Moloney’s case appears to be the first in which someone has been accused of weaponizing insecticides against the police. In other cases, defendants were accused of assaulting officers with bats, sticks, batons, flagpoles, firecrackers, fire extinguishers, various types of chemical sprays, a hockey stick and even a skateboard.
Chelsea Rose Marcius contributed report.