Andrew Cavanaugh

A photo from court documents of Andrew Cavanaugh inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

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A U.S. attorney has formally charged a Belgrade business owner and former U.S. Marine with four federal crimes stemming from his involvement in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Andrew Cavanaugh, who owns Tactical Citizen firearm school in Belgrade and wore a hat with his business name on it while at the Capitol, is charged with the federal crimes of 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.

If convicted, Cavanaugh could face up to six months in prison for each of the first two charges and up to one year in prison for each of the second two charges, along with the potential for fines and court fees.

Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips filed the charges on May 14 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

Cavanaugh appeared by video June 4 before U.S. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta and pleaded not guilty to the four charges issued by the Department of Justice. Court documents say he is not in custody and was released on his own recognizance.

FBI agents arrested Cavanaugh on March 16 on accusations of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Cavanaugh did not respond to a message requesting a comment left at his business on Wednesday afternoon. He is represented by David Walker Bos, a federal public defender in D.C., who also did not respond to a request for comment.

The charges against Cavanaugh fall under two different sections of U.S. Code.

The first two are part of the same section of code and deal mainly with Cavanaugh’s alleged entry into the Capitol. The first accuses Cavanaugh of knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted federal building or federal property without permission. The second charge is similar to the first, but done “with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government,” according to the U.S. federal code hosted on Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute website.

The third charge, violent entry and disorderly conduct, alleges “loud, threatening or abusive language” and disorderly or disruptive conduct in the Capitol building with intent to disturb either house of Congress.

The fourth charge against Cavanaugh, which is in the same section of code as the violent entry charge, alleges he broke federal law by parading, demonstrating or picketing inside the Capitol building.

Cavanaugh wore a hat with the name of his business, Tactical Citizen, while participating in the riots, according to the FBI. The hat and posts on his public Facebook page about buying plane tickets to go to Washington in the days leading up to the riots helped lead law enforcement to him.

Court documents say that federal agents identified Cavanaugh from a video taken of him while he was inside the Capitol that was posted on the social media site Parler. The video showed Cavanaugh in a crowd in the Small House Rotunda on the first floor. The man taking the video shouts, “Drag them out by their (expletive) hair,” appearing to be talking about U.S. senators and representatives. The documents say Cavanaugh responded with, “Yeah!”

Rioters on Jan. 6 disrupted a joint session of the U.S. House and Senate, where lawmakers were meeting to certify the electoral college votes in the 2020 presidential election, which former President Donald Trump repeatedly and falsely claimed was “stolen.”

Representatives, senators and former Vice President Mike Pence were evacuated from the chambers they were in and the joint session was suspended until that evening.

Several people died during or shortly after the Capitol riot, including at least one woman who was trampled by other rioters and a Capitol Police officer who died from injuries he received from the rioters. Two men have been charged with assault. About 140 law enforcement officers, both Capitol and Metropolitan police, received injuries including concussions and broken bones, according to a February story by the New York Times.

A status conference for Cavanaugh’s case was set for July 21, 2021 at noon eastern time by video, again in front of Judge Mehta.

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.

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