SC man led rioters through Pelosi’s office and more into Capitol, evidence shows

·3 min read

New government evidence made public Thursday says a South Carolina man already charged in the Jan. 6 2021 Capitol riot “led a pack of rioters through (House) Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s suite” that day.

The new evidence also alleges that William “Robbie” Norwood III, of Greer, continually uttered curse words as he roamed the Capitol and at one point shouted, “This is our house. ... Where you at, Nancy?” Norwood was taking a video of himself as he went, evidence says.

Minutes later, Norwood went to another part of the Capitol, where he and other rioters “banged on doors” to the outside and “eventually pushed open the doors, which allowed hundreds of rioters to stream into the U.S. Capitol Building from the outside,” according to the new evidence.

Norwood, a supporter of former President Donald Trump, was arrested last February. He is one of 11 people from South Carolina facing charges connected to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Although Norwood faces a variety of serious charges in the Capitol riot, the new evidence asserts he was far more of an active participant in the riot than previously alleged.

The new evidence surfaced Thursday in a government motion filed just before a hearing at which federal prosecutors asked U.S. Judge Emmet Sullivan to put Norwood in jail for trying to intimidate an important potential witness in his case.

William Norwood stands before the Washington Monument on Jan. 6, 2021.
William Norwood stands before the Washington Monument on Jan. 6, 2021.

Norwood carried out “what appears to be a sustained campaign ... to coerce, intimidate, threaten, and corruptly persuade a potential government witness to recant her statements to law enforcement and to obstruct justice,” according to the prosecution motion filed Thursday.

The witness is Norwood’s estranged wife. She was not identified by name in court records.

Judge Sullivan declined to jail Norwood for the time being.

But the judge did say, “If I hear one more allegation under oath by your estranged wife that you have contacted her, I will issue a sealed bench warrant and have you arrested.”

According to the prosecution’s motion in the case, Norwood “has, at the very least, been pressuring his estranged wife to recant her statements to the FBI, to not be truthful, and to “keep [her] mouth shut.” In fact, when the estranged wife texted the defendant, “I will tell the whole truth,” the defendant responded, “No you won’t. ... You’ll tell them you reached out to me and made the offer. That I didn’t respond to you. ... Do not throw me under the bus. ... What part of spousal privilege don’t you get???”

The estranged wife was also quoted in the prosecution motion as saying, “Robert Norwood has been trying to [coerce] me into emailing you, stating that, anything from my statements to the FBI were not true. However, I do not feel comfortable lying [sic] about anything.. . . I do not feel comfortable in anything that he was telling me to do.”

The judge also said he will hold a hearing in February where he will hear evidence about Norwood’s alleged witness tampering. Norwood’s lawyer, Peter Cooper, will have a chance to rebut that evidence, the judge said.

Norwood, who was arrested by the FBI in February 2021, has been out on bond but under various restrictions, including being on home detention, being monitored by GPS and ordered not to contact potential witnesses.

He faces multiple charges in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, including stealing government property, obstruction of an official proceeding, entering and remaining in a restricted building, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, entering and remaining in certain Capitol rooms.

Two of those charges are felonies and he faces a prison sentence of up to 20 years if convicted.

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