Louisiana father, son arrested on charges related to Jan. 6 breach at U.S. Capitol

WASHINGTON – Two Louisiana men were arrested Thursday on felony and misdemeanor charges related to their conduct during the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to the FBI office in New Orleans.

Their actions and the actions of others interrupted a joint session in Congress dedicated to counting the electoral votes related to the 2020 presidential election.

Willard Purkel Jr., 51, and his son Colby Purkel, 27, both of Covington, Louisiana, are charged with civil disorder, a felony, in a criminal complaint filed in the District of Columbia. Additionally, both men are charged with misdemeanor offenses of 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 court documents, on Jan. 6, 2021, Willard and Colby Purkel went to the east side of the Capitol building and joined a crowd of rioters who forcibly entered the Capitol through the East Rotunda doors.

Around 3:07 p.m., a group of rioters were attempting to enter the Capitol through the doors while another group was trying to exit. Law enforcement authorities attempted to shut the doors to prevent the rioters’ entry. Willard and Colby Purkel are accused of trying to enter the Capitol by pushing against the officers who then sought to close the doors.

About 14 minutes later, the East Rotunda doors were again opened as police tried to remove rioters from the building. As the doors were opened, officials say the Purkels pushed their way into the building, streaming into the lobby outside the Rotunda. The Purkels joined protestors to push against police officers attempting to prevent their entry into the Rotunda. Ultimately, the two men forced their way into the Rotunda. 

Once inside the Rotunda, authorities surrounded the rioters and established control of the situation. Although the Purkels and other protestors were escorted outside of the Capitol building, the duo illegally remained on the Capitol grounds.

Officials say Willard climbed atop an armored truck before walking with his son to the west side of the building. The Purkels and the rioters remained in this location as police attempted to clear the area. 

This case is being investigated by the FBI’s New Orleans and Washington Field Offices. The U.S. Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department assisted.

Since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 1,200 individuals have been charged in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including more than 400 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement, a felony. The investigation remains ongoing.

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