Local businessman charged in US Capitol riot ordered held until hearing next week

A frame grab from a video included as part of an arrest warrant affidavit that shows Chris...
A frame grab from a video included as part of an arrest warrant affidavit that shows Chris Grider inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 with a yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag around his neck.(FBI)
Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 1:06 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 22, 2021 at 1:39 PM CST
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AUSTIN, Texas (KWTX) - Waco area business owner Chris Grider of Chilton who entered the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as Trump supporters stormed the building and witnessed a shooting that left a woman dead will remain in custody pending a detention hearing on Jan. 27, U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Hightower ordered after an initial hearing Friday in Austin.

Hightower ordered the appointment of a public defender to represent Grider, who “testified under oath or otherwise satisfied the court after appropriate inquiry” he’s financially unable to hire a lawyer and doesn’t wish to waive counsel, although Grider was advised he may be required to reimburse the government should he be found guilty.

Grider surrendered Thursday to FBI agents in Austin after he was named in a warrant signed on Wednesday by a U.S. magistrate judge in Washington, D.C., that charges government property or contracts; knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority; violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, alleging damage to government property, entering a restricted building and engaging in disorderly conduct “with the intent to impede, disrupt or disturb the orderly conduct of government business.

Grider was in the Capitol when Ashli Babbitt, a U.S. Air Force veteran from the San Diego area, was struck by a shot fired through a glass door on the second floor of the building as protesters were forcing their way into the Speaker’s chambers.

Babbitt died.

The Capitol Police officer who shot her was placed on administrative leave.

Grider, a Trump supporter from Chilton, told KWTX on Jan. 6 he went to Washington, D.C. to take part in the rally to support Mr. Trump’s claims of election fraud.

“Maybe there was, maybe there wasn’t, but what troubles me is the ‘nothing to see here’ attitude,” Grider told KWTX.

“The president asked people to come and show their support, I feel like it’s the least that we could do, it’s kind of why I came from Central Texas and went all the way to D.C., he’s done a lot for the country and he asked this and I figured that’s something that I could do, so that’s why I went and showed up and showed support,” Grider told KWTX in a story that aired on the night of Jan. 6.

“After the video aired, law enforcement gathered several videos from open sources, which corroborated Grider’s admission that he was inside the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021,” an arrest warrant affidavit says.

The videos showed Grider, who was wearing a black puffy jacket and blue jeans and had a blue mask over his mouth and a yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag around his neck, outside of the Capitol before the building was breached.

“Before making his way inside the Capitol, Grider was seen on video in what appears to be the southwest side standing on a marble landing near scaffolding. He was seen holding his phone and moving it around likely taking videos or pictures of the crowd. Grider was then observed walking on the railing beside the stairs and was moving with the initial crowd that later made their way forcefully through that entrance to the Capitol,” the affidavit says.

“Once inside the Capitol, Grider was observed in the rotunda, the hallway to the House of Representatives, and several other areas before eventually arriving outside the Speaker’s Lobby where the shooting occurred. Prior to arriving outside the lobby, Grider was holding a black helmet in the air,” the affidavit says.

Video then shows Grider in front of the glass doors leading to the Speaker’s Lobby as another man attempted “to break the glass window separating the mob from the House chambers,” the affidavit says.

“Grider is then observed handing a black helmet to this individual, then speaking to him as Grider appears to knock on the top of the helmet, signifying that it is a hard instrument,” the affidavit says.

The other man took the helmet and “proceeded to use it to strike the glass doors…breaking the glass that Babbitt eventually attempted to jump through” before she was shot, the affidavit says.

“Video footage also captured how Grider attempted to push open the doors and then kick the doors in an attempt to breach the entrance leading to House Chamber where members of Congress were located,” the affidavit says.

Grider, however, maintains he was trying to exit the building after the woman was shot.

The video shows Grider backing away from the door as others in the crowd screamed “gun” as the Capitol officer fired a single shot at Babbitt, the affidavit says.

After the injured woman was carried out of the building, “Grider remained and could be seen minutes after the shooting leaning over the railing to get a better glimpse of Babbitt bleeding on the floor. Grider was holding his phone over the stairway appearing to capture a video or pictures of Babbitt,” the affidavit says.

The affidavit estimates damage to the door at more than $1,000.

(Paul J. Gately contributed to this story)

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