EXCLUSIVE: Johnson City man charged in Jan. 6 Capitol riots says he was misled by QAnon | WJHL

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — A Johnson City man has been arrested and charged with four counts in connection with his alleged participation in the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol Riots.

James Wayne Brooks, 50, was arrested and charged with the following charges on January 5, 2022:

  • Entering and staying in a building or land with restricted access
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a building or area with restricted access
  • Disorderly Conduct in a Capitol Building
  • Marching, demonstrating or picketing a Capitol building

Brooks contacted News Channel 11 and agreed to an interview, where he admitted to entering the Capitol on January 6, but said he was non-violent and was allowed in and out of the building by the Capitol Police.

Brooks said that in the weeks leading up to the riots, he was influenced by the QAnon conspiracy theory. Consuming misinformation online, Brooks said he believed the events on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 would prove the 2020 election was stolen.

“What we were told was that the FBI and the soldiers were supporting Trump because it was a fraudulent election and there were going to be arrests,” Brooks said.

He believed the arrests would be politicians, but that never materialized. He said he felt misled by QAnon theories.

“If I had known then, what I know now, that all the QAnon, underground news that I was reading was fake, I still would have gone, but I wouldn’t have walked into the Capitol building,” he said. said Brooks.

Brooks said President Trump’s speech at the Ellipse near the White House also proved motivational for the rioters.

“President Trump asked that we march to the Capitol and we did,” Brooks said. “It could have hurt some extremists very badly. I can’t speak for them. I can only speak for myself.”

Brooks, an Iraq War veteran, maintained that his actions on Capitol Hill were nonviolent. The riots left dozens of Capitol police injured. Ashli ​​Babbitt, one of the rioters, was shot by Capitol police.

He claimed to have entered the building after the first waves were already inside.

“I didn’t push anyone. I never laid my hands on anybody,” Brooks said. “The only thing I was armed with was pepper spray for my own protection.”

An FBI report said Brooks was first seen on Capitol surveillance video at 2:29 p.m. carrying a South Carolina flag with a Marine Corps logo attached. He also wore a bulletproof vest, an Iraqi freedom veteran hat and a communication radio.

At 2:37 a.m., Brooks entered the building through the west upper terrace door. He claimed that Capitol Police officers left him and others inside the building where they were then escorted down two hallways before being led back outside by Capitol Police. Capitol.

“[The officer] said, ‘Excuse me, sir. Could you please pass by here? ‘, which I obeyed,” Brooks said. “Basically what they did was they just kicked me out of the Capitol building.”

At 2:47 a.m., Brooks was seen on body camera footage of an officer exiting the building. He spent about 10 minutes inside, according to the report.

At the time, Brooks didn’t believe he was breaking the law because he said officers were letting people into the building.

“By the time I reached the Capitol building, they were just letting people in. I didn’t think I was breaking the law,” Brooks said. “I had no idea going up to the Capitol that things were going to turn out the way they did.”

The FBI was able to identify Brooks through a May 2021 Facebook post in which he wore the same gray and red hoodie seen in surveillance photos.

Brooks told News Channel 11 that his next court appearance was scheduled for March 17.

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