First Jan. 6 Suspect Charged With Firing Gun

First Jan. 6 Suspect Charged With Firing Gun
Supporters of President Donald Trump protest at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

An Illinois man has become the first person involved in the events of Jan. 6, 2021, to be charged with firing a gun.

John Banuelos, 39, was arrested on March 8 on multiple counts, including discharging a firearm on U.S. Capitol grounds.

FBI investigators found images and video footage of Mr. Banuelos in Washington near the Capitol on Jan. 6 with a gun in his waistband, according to a criminal complaint. Surveillance footage captured him waving a gun above his head, while video captured by others showed him firing two shots in the air while on scaffolding outside the building.

There’s “probable cause to believe” that Mr. Banuelos violated a federal law that prohibits firing a gun, discharging explosives, or using dangerous weapons inside Capitol buildings or on Capitol grounds, an FBI agent wrote in the document.

Agents checked a national database and found no indication that Mr. Banuelos was licensed to carry a gun on Jan. 6. Washington has strict gun control laws with few exceptions.

While being interviewed later in 2021 after a person was killed in Salt Lake City, Mr. Banuelos told officers that he went inside the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“I went inside and I’m the one with the video with the gun right here,” he said, KSL-TV reported.

“I was in the D.C. riots. You can look me up, OK? The FBI hasn’t came and got me yet, OK?” he also said.

FBI agents said they received a call on Feb. 4, 2021, about a photograph of a Jan. 6 suspect the bureau had disseminated. A witness said that the individual depicted in the image was Mr. Banuelos. The witness also relayed how Mr. Banuelos told him or her that he was in a Vice video from Jan. 6, 2021, which showed the same individual displaying a gun.

Investigators found a Twitter account with the name John Banuelos and found a video that appeared to show Mr. Banuelos holding a semi-automatic weapon in a video that was posted in response to the FBI’s dissemination of the photograph.

Agents later interviewed Mr. Banuelos, on Jan. 19. No transcript of the interview has been released, but according to the FBI, Mr. Banuelos said that he never threatened anybody and that many of his posts were posted by artificial intelligence. The agent who authored the complaint said that based on his observations, Mr. Banuelos is the same person in the images and video from Jan. 6.

It’s not clear whether Mr. Banuelos has retained a lawyer. No lawyer was listed for him on the court docket.

An individual identified by the FBI as John Banuelos outside the U.S. Capitol, on Jan. 6, 2021. (FBI via The Epoch Times)

Video Released

Former West Virginia Delegate Derrick Evans recently released a video of a man, identified by law enforcement as Mr. Banuelos, shooting a gun outside the Capitol.

Mr. Evans, who is running for Congress, took credit for the arrest.

“Government had video of him shooting a gun on J6 for over three years, but they didn’t arrest him until I broke the story and it got national coverage,” Mr. Evans wrote on social media platform X.

He suggested Mr. Banuelos was working for the government.

Social Media Posts

In posts on X, the account identified by the FBI as belonging to Mr. Banuelos suggested he used to be a federal employee.

“Quit my job as a fed,” he allegedly wrote in one post on March 3.

“Do you want information from a former fed let me know,” another recent post states.

The account was still active as of March 11.

No Charges Over Killing

On July 4, 2021, Mr. Banuelos told police officers in Utah that he had stabbed a man at a local park, who subsequently died.

“I did it to defend my life, man. You know what I’m saying? My intentions were never to go there and to do that. I was relaxing. I wanted to smoke weed. I wanted to chill. I brought my beer. I was just chilling,” Mr. Banuelos told officers.

Prosecutors later declined to press charges, KSL-TV reported.

“Based upon the information provided to our office for screening, we have determined that we are unable to proceed with the prosecution of John Emmanuel Banuelos at this time,” the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office said in a letter to a Salt Lake City detective.

“This office would be more than happy to revisit this matter if further information is developed which more adequately supports the prosecution of said individual,” the office said.

From The Epoch Times

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