Proud Boys intended to kill Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi, FBI witness says

An FBI witness says that members of the far-right Proud Boys had hoped to assassinate Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi during last week’s violent storming of the U.S. Capitol.

An FBI special agent made the claim in an affidavit as part of a criminal complaint against 43-year-old Dominic Pezzola, who is accused of taking part in the riot in support of President Donald Trump‘s false claims that the presidential election was “stolen.” Pezzola, who is also known as “Spaz,” allegedly used a shield taken from a Capitol Police officer to smash a Capitol window before entering the building. An FBI witness said that the group Pezzola was with had discussed committing violent acts that went far beyond property damage.

“[The witness] stated that other members of the group talked about things that they had done during the day, and they said that anyone they got their hands on they would have killed, including Nancy Pelosi,” the affidavit, which was filed Wednesday, reads. “[The witness] further stated that members of this group, which included ‘Spaz,’ said that they would have killed [Vice President] Mike Pence if given the chance.”

“The group said it would be returning on the ’20th,’ which your affiant takes to mean the Presidential Inauguration scheduled for January 20, 2021,” it continues. “And that they plan to kill every single ‘m-fer’ they can. [The witness] stated the men said they all had firearms or access to firearms.”

Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi preside over a joint session of Congress to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021.
J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE/POOL/AFP/Getty

Pezzola, of Rochester, New York, was arrested Friday and charged with obstruction of an official proceeding, destruction of government property and unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds, with the possibility of additional charges to come. He could potentially face 20 years in prison if convicted.

Court documents reference a video of Pezzola and associates after the building was breached. Pezzola is pictured with a cigar celebrating a “victory smoke in the Capitol” while describing the breach as “f*cking awesome.” The documents also note that Pezzola describes himself as a “Marine vet / boxer / patriot/ Proud Boy 2nd°” in a profile on the Telegram messaging app.

Multiple members of the Proud Boys have been identified as part of the violent mob that took part in the riot at the Capitol, which resulted in the deaths of at least five people. The pro-Trump group gained particular notoriety last September when Trump urged them to “stand back and stand by” while refusing to directly repudiate white supremacist and militia groups during a presidential debate.

Additional security measures, including a large deployment of National Guard troops, are being taken in preparation for potential violence surrounding President-elect Joe Biden‘s inauguration next week. Trump was impeached on Wednesday for allegedly inciting the Capitol riot. The outgoing president has also been banned from major social media platforms over concerns that his rhetoric could inspire further violence.

Newsweek reached out to the offices of Pence and Pelosi for comment.

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