This Capitol rioter’s own messages helped the feds convict him of attacking police

A North Carolina man who struck Capitol police with a metal pole after being one of the first to breach U.S. Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, 2021, was sentenced to six years in prison Tuesday.

After slamming and grabbing officers’ face masks, David Joseph Gietzen, 30, told friends and family it was “a beautiful day” spent with thousands of people ascending the Capitol after former president Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally.

An armed civil war would come next, he hoped.

The Sanford man was arrested one year and four months later. He was one of several thousand Trump supporters — and at least 16 now-convicted North Carolinians — who stormed the Capitol, where a crowd broke through police barricades, breached the building and attempted to stop the joint session of Congress where electoral votes were being counted in the 2020 presidential election.

“Never been prouder to be an American,” Gietzen wrote in another message someone later shared with FBI agents.

Court documents lay out Gietzen’s movements around Washington D.C., both on the day of the Capitol riots and his return two weeks later on the day of President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

While Gietzen was the first publicly-identified N.C. defendant to have been in Washington for both Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally and the inauguration, he has not been charged with any crimes connected to his inaugural visit.

U.S. District Judge Carl J. Nichols sentenced Gietzen to 72 months – or six years – in prison and 36 months of supervised release after a federal jury found him guilty of seven felonies and one misdemeanor for his actions at the Capitol.

Members of the U.S. House committee that investigated the Jan. 6 attack found that Trump provoked his supporters to violence through his false allegations of fraud in the 2020 election. The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday will hear arguments over whether Trump is immune from prosecution in a criminal indictment charging him with trying to overturn the election result.

David Gietzen’s Capitol riot route

Gietzen —who wore a helmet, goggles, and knee pads on Jan. 6 — consistently pushed his way to the front of the Capitol’s crowds, documents filed by the FBI show.

Cameras fastened to the building above show him lined at the barriers in front of the Capitol around 2 p.m. His white helmet and green jacket set him aside from the crowd of red MAGA-hat wearers and police officers uniformed in black helmets and vests.

Screenshots of surveillance videos soon show Gietzen pushing through the barrier as a crowd of others follow.

“F--- disgrace,” he yells at officers. “We Want Trump!” he chants.

By 2:30 p.m., Gietzen is carrying a long metal pipe, which he later uses to assault officers after they were toppled by a door-sized piece of plywood. He leaves the area — and his helmet — and appears at the front of a tunnel entrance by 4 p.m.

That’s the last time Gietzen was captured on camera that day.

He later sent a message to friends saying: “Btw they are trying to give credit to storming congress on the news to Antifa….BULLSHIT, I was there in a hallway helping to push the line of guards back. Today was 100 what happens when you piss of normal people, and the next protest is going even further.”

FBI agents contacted Gietzen by phone on Jan. 19, 2021, and he told them that he and his brother were en route to D.C., but that “he had no intentions of committing any acts of violence.”

A friend in one of Gietzen’s group chats contacted the FBI in May 2021 after Gietzen’s college acquaintance did the same in February. A year later, police arrested him.

Gietzen does not regret his actions, he said at both the trial and sentencing, according to a news release by the U.S. District Attorney for the District of Colombia.

More than 1,230 people — including 34 North Carolinians — have been charged with federal crimes in the riot, ranging from misdemeanor offenses like trespassing to felonies like assaulting police officers and seditious conspiracy.

At least five deaths have been linked to the violence. More than 140 police officers were injured, while the Capitol was left with an estimated $1.5 million in damages.