Austin man and his father agree to plea deal in Capitol riot

Published 1:53 pm Wednesday, January 5, 2022

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The Associated Press contributed

An Austin man and his father, who were charged in the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot, have pleaded guilty in connection to the case.

Daniel Johnson, 29, of Austin, and his father Daryl Johnson, 51, of St. Ansgar, Iowa, pleaded guilty to one charge of civil disorder, admitting that they entered the building through a broken window and pushed through a police line once inside.

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In court documents, the pair were pictured in numerous photos and had made social media posts about their involvement in the days following the attack.

In the plea agreement signed by both men on Dec. 15, they admitted that at about 2:20 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2021, they unlawfully entered the Capitol by climbing through a broken window next to the Senate wing door. While inside, they climbed a flight of stairs to the second floor and at one point encountered a line of law enforcement officers.

Daryl and Daniel Johnson, pictured in this screen capture included in federal court documents, have been chareged in the Jan. 6 breach of Capitol Grounds. Photo provided

“Along with a group of other rioters, Johnson and his son, Daniel Johnson, rushed the line of law enforcement officers and helped push through the officers and push open the east rotunda doors, allowing rioters outside of the building to enter. Johnson was at or near the front of the group of rioters on the interior of the Capitol when the doors were opened,” the document said.

All told, the father and son were in the Capitol for about 26 minutes.

While they face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the felony, court documents indicate prosecution and defense attorneys agreed a sentence of up to six months and a fine of up to $20,000 is likely. The judge has discretion in sentencing and will consider filings from both sides, including video evidence from prosecutors.

The men agreed the riot caused an estimated $1.5 million in damage to the Capitol, and they each agreed to pay $2,000 in restitution, court documents indicated. They both also agreed to allow law enforcement officers to interview them about the events surrounding the attack.

The felony was a late addition to the charges. Prior to that, the pair were charged with four misdemeanor charges including:

  • Entering and remaining in a restricted building;
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building;
  • Violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building; and 
  • Parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building.

Sentencing was set for April 12. Both men remain free.

A day after the riot an individual called the FBI National Threat Operations Center to report that Daniel posted on Snapchat a video from inside the Capitol. On Jan. 18, another individual submitted a tip to the FBI.

A third tip on March 1 reported both Daniel and Daryl as being inside the Capitol. During the investigation, the FBI uncovered videos of Daniel and Daryl inside the U.S. Capitol building. The FBI also reviewed Daniel’s Facebook page, which showed a number of political posts around the time of the riots. In one post, dated Jan. 7, Daniel posted a photograph of the Jan. 6 crowd near the U.S. Capitol building with the caption, “Couple thousand?? Lol try like 4 million people!!! (sic)”

In a Facebook post the day after the attack, Daryl Johnson stated, “Mark my words Yesterday will be the beginning of the revolution.” He also made comments about “some version of a civil war” and commented in another post: “Bring it on Biden! I have no problem dying in a pool of empty shell casings.”

The day before the attack, Daniel Johnson posted expletives about Biden. After he left the scene of the attack, he posted, “We stormed capitol hill” and “Lol Dad and I were one of the first ones inside.” He also commented that he was sure House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office was trashed. “I was trying to find a way into the chamber,” he wrote. He also posted on Jan. 7: “Trump 2020.”