Ex-Marine from NC wore battle gear, attacked police in Jan. 6 riots, FBI says

Former Marine Lee Stutts lives at the tip of a peaceful Lake Norman peninsula, but on Jan. 6, 2021, he readied for battle, prosecutors say.

The 46-year-old Terrell man wore a black helmet with a Marine Corps logo sticker on the back as he assaulted at least seven officers during the Capitol riots, according to an FBI affidavit released by federal prosecutors after his arrest in North Carolina Thursday.

In a criminal complaint filed in the District of Columbia, Stutts was charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding officers with a deadly or dangerous weapon and obstruction of law enforcement during a civil disorder, both felonies. He becomes at least the 31st North Carolinian to be charged in the Jan. 6 attack.

He also was charged with the misdemeanor offenses of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, and engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds.

Stutts is accused of pushing and shoving officers with his hands, a barricade, a battering ram and a bike rack as he helped lead the Capitol breach, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

Lee Stutts shoves a U.S. Capitol Police officer in this image from closed-circuit police video included in a criminal indictment against Stutts.
Lee Stutts shoves a U.S. Capitol Police officer in this image from closed-circuit police video included in a criminal indictment against Stutts.

The riots disrupted the joint session of Congress where electoral votes were counted in the 2020 presidential election. The count certified Joe Biden as the winner over Donald Trump.

‘Waving other rioters on’

Stutts lives in a split-level home built in 1975 on Clement Circle, Catawba County property tax records show.

The home and its half-acre, about 33 miles northwest of Charlotte, are valued at $866,600, the public records show.

That’s modest on a lake where mansions worth millions of dollars line the shore.

Stutts didn’t return a phone message from The Charlotte Observer on Friday.

On Jan. 6, 2021, Stutts sported a “2020 Trump Keep America Great” shirt over a long-sleeved black and gray camouflage print hoodie, according to the affidavit filed by an unnamed FBI special agent.

He also wore an American flag and eagle print neck gaiter and had a backpack on.

Lee Stutts is shown during the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, 2021.
Lee Stutts is shown during the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, 2021.

After joining a “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse in Washington, Stutts darted through broken fencing and over a wall to join fellow rioters on the west plaza of the Capitol, according to the affidavit.

“He can be seen waiving [sic] other rioters on as he made a beeline for the line of U.S. Capitol Police officers blocking the way to the southwest steps of the Capitol,” the agent says in the affidavit.

Stutts wrapped his arms around an officer from behind and shoved an officer from behind with his hands, according to the indictment.

Body-cam and closed-circuit police video also show Stutts assaulting four other officers after more police arrived to try to hold their line with metal bike racks, the FBI agent said.

‘Pumping his fists’

Stutts and other rioters later moved a large sign on wheels with a metal frame toward the police line and barricade. “The rioters used the sign as a battering ram against officers attempting to hold the line,” the agent said.

Stutts then grabbed the bike rack barricade beneath the sign and pushed it toward the officers, according to the affidavit.

After police took the sign from the rioters, video shows Stutts throwing a water bottle at the police line, the FBI agent said.

Later that afternoon, “Stutts was one of the rioters leading the way” in a final breaking of the police line, the agent said. “After the Plaza was overrun, Stutts could be observed raising his arms and pumping his fists in a celebratory manner as police officers retreated from the oncoming swarm of rioters.”

Stutts made his initial appearance in federal court in Charlotte on Friday and was released on a $25,000 bond pending a Nov. 28 hearing, court records show.

U.S. Magistrate Judge David Keesler appointed federal public defender John Davis of Charlotte to represent Stutts.

In an email Friday night, Davis told the Observer that he was just “the duty attorney” in court Friday, “so I really don’t know anything about the specific case.” Another lawyer, possibly from his office, will represent Stutts as the case progresses, Davis said.

Stutts joins at least 1,200 others from all 50 states who’ve been charged in connection with the Capitol breach, which caused $2.7 million in damage.

His case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Columbia and the Department of Justice National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. U.S. Attorney Dena King’s Charlotte-based office is providing assistance.