WASHINGTON — A Proud Boys member and former D.C. bartender who was caught on video joining a mob pursuing police officers and smashing a sign inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, pleaded guilty Friday to a felony count of obstruction of an official proceeding.
Joshua Pruitt, 40, appeared from jail for a virtual hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Timothy J. Kelly, where he admitted that he joined the mob that stormed the Capitol. Pruitt had been indicted on eight counts, including civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, and destruction of government property. Under a plea deal with the government, the other seven charges will be dropped after Pruitt is sentenced. His recommended sentencing guidelines range is 51-63 months in federal prison.
Pruitt admitted in court documents that he nearly came into contact with Sen. Chuck Schumer as the senator's security detail tried to whisk the then-minority leader to safety. Pruitt admitted that he tossed a chair in the direction of officers and was headed towards the Senate subway when he came across Schumer's security detail as they awaited an elevator.
"As they waited, a member of Senator Schumer's security detail saw PRUITT and one other man approaching. The security detail and Senator Schumer reversed course and ran away from the elevator, back down the ramp, and away from PRUITT," Pruitt admitted in a statement of offense.
Pruitt eventually exited through a broken window, and then admitted to someone via text that he had been inside the Capitol and was, in the other person's words, "about to go at it with the cops." Pruitt later texted that "inside was fun."
Pruitt, who was arrested after violating the curfew imposed by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser the night of Jan. 6, is currently in custody at the Rappahannock Regional Jail in Virginia. Pruitt was initially granted pretrial release, but Judge Kelly ordered him jailed in January because Pruitt had repeatedly violated curfew.
Pruitt is one of several members of the right-wing Proud Boys who have entered guilty pleas in Jan. 6 cases. Louis Enrique Colon, a member of the Proud Boys from Missouri, pleaded guilty to a felony charge in April, as did Charles Donohoe, a Proud Boys chapter leader in North Carolina.
Last month, in preparation for trial, Pruitt's lawyer filed a motion seeking to preclude a jury from hearing about Pruitt's affiliation with the Proud Boys, saying it would be prejudicial and would "distract the jury" to link him to an organization that has been associated "with racially charged beliefs" and members who "have been branded by the media as violent racist[s]."
Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, who was indicted on conspiracy charges in connection with the Jan. 6 attack, is being held in pretrial detention in his case. Video filmed in D.C. in November 2020 shows Tarrio inducting Pruitt into the Proud Boys during events surrounding the Million Maga March.
More than 800 defendants have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack, facing charges ranging from petty misdemeanors to seditious conspiracy. Over 300 people have pleaded guilty.
There's a long road ahead: More than 2,500 people entered the Capitol building on Jan. 6, and hundreds more assaulted officers or members of the media outside, including over 350 who are featured on the FBI's Capitol Violence website and have not yet been arrested. The Biden administration has requested millions in additional resources from Congress to prosecute the hundreds of cases.