FBI: Images, phone records, license plate readers link RI man to Jan. 6 Capitol riot




  • In US
  • 2022-12-09 10:09:50Z
  • By The Providence Journal

A man in a Bryant University sweatshirt photographed inside the U.S. Capitol during the riot on Jan. 6, 2021, has been identified as a Rhode Island resident and arrested and charged with several crimes, federal officials say.

William B. Cotton, 53, of Hopkinton, is the third Rhode Islander charged in connection with the riot, when supporters of then-President Donald Trump forced their way into the Capitol, breaking windows and assaulting members of the Capitol Police in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden's election as president.

The FBI says Cotton spent about 27 minutes inside the Capitol building, where he apparently recorded video or took photographs with his cellphone and chanted "traitor" with others in the crowd.

More:FBI charges North Kingstown man with storming Capitol in Jan. 6 riot

The FBI says William Cotton and others were chanting \"traitor\" when this image was taken inside the U.
The FBI says William Cotton and others were chanting \"traitor\" when this image was taken inside the U.  

Cotton was arrested without incident Wednesday and charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in a Capitol building or grounds, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, according to federal officials.

During an initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond on Wednesday, Cotton waived his right to an identification hearing. He was released on personal recognizance with several conditions and, like all defendants in the Jan. 6 incident, will be prosecuted in Washington, D.C.

In a criminal complaint, the FBI included several still images from U.S. Capitol closed-circuit television and "open-source" video of a long-haired man wearing blue jeans and a Bryant University sweatshirt inside the Capitol building and on its grounds. Special Agent Madison Taylor Temple, assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, wrote that the man in the photographs had been identified as Cotton in a tip on Dec. 6, 2021, later by a third party who knows him, and also by an FBI comparison with his driver's license.

More:Providence man involved in Federal Hill standoff now charged in Jan. 6 Capitol riot

The FBI also pulled cellphone records that show the user of Cotton's cellphone making nine calls from Washington, between 10:33 a.m. and 4:55 p.m. on the day of the riot. The cellphone records from Jan. 5 through Jan. 7, 2021, "are consistent with the user of the cellphone traveling south through New Jersey to Washington, D.C., then back to New England from Washington, D.C., at or near the conclusion of the insurrection," Temple wrote.

License-plate readers also recorded Cotton's 2011 silver Toyota Tundra traveling through New York City around 1 p.m. Jan. 5 and southbound on Interstate 95 in Perryville, Maryland, at 3:57 the same day. At 9:29 a.m. on Jan. 6, the license plate was picked up traveling south on I-95 in Point Breeze, Maryland. And on Jan. 7, it was recorded in New York City.

Federal officials say images show Cotton "in a large group of rioters" on the West Terrace of the Capitol grounds before entering the Capitol building through the Senate Wing door around 2:51 p.m. "behind a group of rioters that had just breached this entrance."

More:Family of deceased Jan. 6 police officer refuse to shake hands with GOP's McConnell, McCarthy

Inside the building, images show the man talking on a cellphone and also apparently using the cellphone to take a photograph or record a video. Referring to an image recorded at 2:55 p.m., Temple wrote, Cotton "appears to chant something along with the crowd. ... An open-source video recorded by one of the participants in the crowd shows that Cotton was chanting 'traitor,'" Temple wrote.

Cotton remained standing in the Senate Wing door area until about 3:01 p.m. then moved further into the center of the building towards the Crypt, Temple wrote. He reappeared in the Senate Wing door entrance room around 3:05 p.m. and stayed there until Capitol Police began "corralling everyone outside of the building" at3:16 p.m., the FBI agent wrote. Cotton left through the Senate Wing door at 3:17 p.m., Temple wrote.

The FBI is still asking for the public's help in identifying anyone who unlawfully entered the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021.  Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-CALL-FBI, or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov. The FBI has posted photographs of people it is trying to identify on its website.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Hopkinton man arrested, charged in Jan. 6 Capitol attack

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