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Capitol rioter shot at local deputies after FBI informed him of Jan. 6 charges

Nathan Donald Pelham, of Texas, faces an additional felony count on top of the four misdemeanor charges stemming from the attack on the Capitol.

A Texas man facing charges in the Jan. 6 riot opened fire last week on sheriff’s deputies who had gone to his home to check on him ahead of his scheduled surrender to the FBI, according to a new criminal complaint.

Nathan Donald Pelham, of Greenville, who initially faced four misdemeanor charges tied to the insurrection, faces an additional felony charge of being a felon in possession of firearm after the incident April 12, a criminal complaint filed this week shows.

An FBI special agent wrote in a filing that he had called Pelham on April 12 and asked him to surrender in a few days. That evening, according to the agent, local authorities went to Pelham’s home after his father requested a welfare check.

When the deputies arrived, Pelham fired several shots toward them, prosecutors said.

One of the law enforcement officers said one gunshot “came in so close proximity to myself that I could hear the distinct whistling sound as the bullet traveled by me and then strike a metal object to my right side,” according to a court filing.

The new weapon charge against Pelham is likely to give federal authorities a quick way to keep him locked up before his trial. He could face other charges related to the shooting down the line.

Court records show that Pelham waived a detention hearing and that a federal magistrate judge ordered him detained.

The initial charges included disorderly conduct and parading, demonstrating or picketing at the Capitol. He appeared in at least one photo from the riot donning a hat with a logo associated with the Proud Boys, the FBI said.

Nathan Pelham at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Nathan Pelham at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.United States Attorney for the District of Columbia

Many the Jan. 6 defendants who have pleaded guilty to the same misdemeanor charges against Pelham have been sentenced only to periods of probation.

Pelham's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Two months after the Capitol riot, Pelham tried to enter Canada but was denied entry by Canadian authorities and subsequently detained by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents in Port Huron, Michigan, the FBI said.

In an interview with two FBI task force officers, Pelham admitted to appearing at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and going up the steps of the building's Senate chamber side. Pelham said he never touched or breached a barricade, and he said he was never told he was entering a restricted area, according to court documents.

Pelham previously claimed that he did not enter the Capitol and said he would be willing to take a polygraph test to prove he wasn’t lying, according to court documents.

Authorities said that after they obtained a search warrant, they found text messages on Pelham's phone that suggested he entered the Capitol, according to court documents.

“If you have a video of being inside, don’t post it,” his wife is alleged to have written a day after the riot. “I know I am smart honey,” Pelham replied, according to court documents.

Pelham later said he was inside for only 10 to 11 seconds, but video showed he was inside for more than seven minutes, the FBI said.

More than 1,000 defendants have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and hundreds more arrests are expected.