A Texas man described as a video editor for the conspiracy theory-promoting Infowars website pleaded guilty on Monday to storming the U.S. Capitol, where he captured footage of the scene where a police officer fatally shot a California woman who joined the mob's attack.
Samuel Christopher Montoya faces a maximum sentence of six months of imprisonment after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building. U.S. District Judge John Bates is scheduled to sentence Montoya on Feb. 14, 2023.
Less than a week after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack, the FBI received a tip from a relative of Motoya who claimed to have proof that he was inside the Capitol near the fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt. A police officer shot and killed Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran from San Diego, as she climbed through a broken door leading into the House Speaker’s lobby.
Identifying himself as “Sam with Infowars.com," Montoya shot and narrated a 44-minute video that showed him going from the Capitol grounds into the building, the FBI said.
Montoya, 37, described himself as a “reporter” or “journalist” on the video, but he was wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat and made statements celebrating the mob's attack.
"We take our house back! We take the people’s house back!” he said, according to an FBI agent's affidavit.
Montoya was credited as a video editor at “Infowarsstore.com” when he appeared on an Infowars show hosted by Owen Shroyer two days after the riot, the affidavit says. The show broadcast the riot video taken by Motoya, who described to Shroyer what he saw and heard at the scene of Babbitt's shooting.
The officer who shot Babbitt was cleared of wrongdoing by both federal prosecutors and Capitol police.
Shroyer has claimed he was acting as a journalist on Jan. 6 and has asked a judge to throw out his riot charges. Prosecutors countered that the First Amendment doesn’t protect Shroyer’s conduct at the Capitol that day.
Nearly a year ago, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack issued subpoenas for documents and testimony from Infowars founder Alex Jones. Jones promoted former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud and urged his viewers to join him in Washington, D.C., for the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6. Jones isn't accused of entering the Capitol with the mob.
In October, a Connecticut jury ordered Jones and his company, Free Speech System, to pay nearly $1 billion in damages to compensate families of children and educators killed in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The families said Jones broadcast lies about the school shooting that subjected them to harassment and threats.
Michael Kunzelman, The Associated Press