Ex-WV councilman charged in Capitol riot

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Federal prosecutors charged a former councilman for the city of Parkersburg, West Virginia, with breaching the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot.

Eric Barber appeared at a brief court hearing in southern West Virginia on Wednesday shortly after charges were filed of entering a restricted area, disorderly conduct and theft.

The criminal complaint alleges Barber entered the Capitol wearing a “green combat style helmet and a green military style field jacket.” It said video reviewed by law enforcement captured Barber saying “They’re giving us the building,” and added he took selfies at one point in the Capitol Rotunda.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Dwane Tinsley ordered Barber released on a $10,000 unsecured bond. A preliminary hearing is set in Washington, D.C., on March 10.

Barber did not speak much during the hearing. Tinsley told him he faced years in prison if convicted.

Barber was elected to the Parkersburg City Council in 2016 as a Democrat. He changed his registration to independent a year later before changing it again to Republican. He lost his reelection bid last November.

Citing security footage, FBI special agent Andrew Cooper alleges in court documents that Barber rummaged through a C-SPAN media stand inside the building, before unplugging and stealing a powerstation worth about $52.

Cooper wrote that investigators identified Barber through several tipsters and social media posts that appear to show Barber.

The U.S. attorney’s office in the nation’s capital has charged over 300 people in connection to the riot.

Republican West Virginia state Del. Derrick Evans resigned his seat in early January after he was charged with entering the Capitol. If convicted of two misdemeanor charges against him, Evans faces up to a year and a half in federal prison.

In December 2017, Barber pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct for ignoring police orders to stop taking photos and video near his Parkersburg home of someone being treated during a medical emergency. A month earlier Barber’s license was suspended after he was found guilty of a marijuana charge.

In 1999 he was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for breaking and entering and petit larceny. Upon release from prison, his parole was revoked after a May 2003 arrest. He later pleaded guilty to drunken driving, having a controlled substance and fleeing on foot, according to the Parkersburg News and Sentinel.

In 2018, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia indicated his support for Donald Trump-nominee Brett Kavanaugh as a U.S. Supreme Court justice, giving Kavanaugh the votes needed to be confirmed by the Senate. At the time, Barber wrote a social media post about liberals in apparent reference to abortion that he later deleted, saying it was poorly worded and insensitive.

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