A Wake Forest man who claimed to be acting as a journalist and entered the U.S. Capitol along with rioters on Jan. 6, 2021, was found guilty of four misdemeanors by a jury in federal court.
Stephen Horn, who was 23 at the time, says he hid among protesters to accurately record those who stormed the Capitol. A jury on Monday decided he did not have the same rights as credentialed journalists and was instead a rioter, according to reporting by the Washington Post.
Horn is one of at least 34 North Carolinians who have been charged in connection with the attack on the Capitol. This protest turned riot led to five deaths and about 140 officer injuries, The Charlotte Observer previously reported
A 12-person jury found Horn guilty of: Entering or remaining in a restricted building; disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds; disorderly conduct in a capitol building; and parading, demonstrating, or picketing in the Capitol building, according to court documents.
The Observer contacted Horn for comment but did not receive a response.
After the riots, Horn posted on Facebook: “I was in DC today when the Capitol was stormed.”
“I did not enter the Capitol building as part of the protest or for cheap thrills, but to accurately document and record a significant event which was taking place,” Horn wrote two years ago.
After the verdict Tuesday, Horn re-shared his Jan. 7 Facebook post and said “I told the same truth to the jury that I posted along with my video.”
The FBI used this post along with a news photo and Horn’s video footage when prosecutors brought charges against him in federal court in March of that year, according to a statement signed by an FBI agent in Horn’s court files.
During the riot, Horn climbed onto a statue, joined protesters in a chant of “USA ‘‘ and entered then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, according to court records.
Horn is one of around 1,070 people who have been arrested in connection with the riot, the Observer previously reported.
Just five days after the insurrection, someone who knew Horn notified the FBI that a photo in New York Times Magazine depicted him inside the U.S. Capitol during the riots, according to court filings accessed via CourtListener, a non-profit database operated by the Free Law Project.
This person, who is not identified in court documents, told the FBI that they believed Horn was in the Capitol as a journalist but said they were not aware of him possessing any media credentials.
The photo shows Horn standing on a statue of Abraham Lincoln and using his cellphone to record those around him.
Horn sat for voluntary interviews with the FBI before authorities eventually charged him for trespassing at the Capitol.
After Jan. 6, Horn published nearly two hours of footage documenting the event from his perspective. Both prosecutors and his defense used this footage in court during his two-day trial.
Horn later used the footage to create a documentary titled “79 Minutes: the Breach of the Capitol.” The documentary “analyzes the period of time and series of events between the initial violence at the edge of Capitol Grounds and the breach of the Capitol Building nearly an hour later,” Horn said in a post to X.
Horn’s lawyer argued that on the day of the attack, Horn was acting as an independent journalist and he notes that Horn did not destroy property or behave as other rioters did, according to the Post’s coverage of the trial. Prosecutors argued that Horn did not behave like a journalist and knowingly trespassed alongside a violent mob.
“His journalism started when he needed an excuse for his criminal liability,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashely Akers said, according to the Washington Post.
Horn’s sentencing hearing is set for January and federal law stipulates he could face up to a year in prison on his charge of entering and remaining in a restricted building.
The investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection remains ongoing, and anyone with tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or visit tips.fbi.gov.