FBI arrests Huntington Beach man on charges related to Capitol breach
The FBI on Thursday arrested a Huntington Beach man who posted images of himself involved in the breach at the U.S. Capitol on social media.
Mark Simon, who is known locally for his far-right views, was taken into custody during a dawn search of his home on federal charges of entering the restricted grounds of the Capitol and disorderly or disruptive conduct for allegedly being part of the incursion by supporters of former President Trump.
Simon is alleged to be part of the group that forced its way into the building on Jan. 6, seeking to block Congress from certifying President Biden’s victory over Trump in the November election, according to the criminal complaint. Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer. More than 160 people have been charged, and hundreds more remain under investigation, according to federal authorities.
Federal prosecutors say a video showed Simon passing through the “threshold of the U.S. Capitol building.” An FBI agent wrote in a sworn statement that a video “showed numerous individuals pushing their way into the U.S. Capitol .... As the individual filming the video approached the doorway to the U.S. Capitol, law enforcement officers inside the U.S. Capitol could be seen attempting to remove individuals from the building.”
The agent said that at one point in the video, the man later identified as Simon “turned the camera on himself and said, ‘In the Capitol baby, yeah!’ Shortly thereafter, the individual turned the camera on himself again and said, ‘2021 Donald Trump!’”
The FBI identified Simon after he was recognized by a Huntington Beach police detective from a blog post image as a “known activist in Huntington Beach.”
Simon, 49, was also featured in a story by the Epoch Times, a far-right newspaper, saying he attended the rally in support of Trump and to ensure a free and fair election. He said police began pushing back against the mob at the Capitol doors to keep them out, adding that “very minor destruction” took place considering the number of people in attendance.
“The worst I saw there was a couple patriots on top of some type of government vehicle — on the roof. That was about it. There was no damage to the vehicle,” Simon said in the Epoch Times.
Simon said the mainstream media was “editing shots” out of context to make the protesters look more violent and destructive than they actually were.
Simon is the latest person from Southern California to be charged with participating in the attack on the Capitol. FBI agents have swept up a crew of characters known locally for their opposition to pandemic orders and support for Trump. They include a Beverly Hills beautician, a Beverly Hills concierge physician, an aspiring actor and the grandson of Glendora’s former mayor.
Last Friday, FBI agents arrested a Federal Aviation Administration employee who lives in Beaumont on charges of taking part in the siege. And on Tuesday, Victorville gym owner Jacob Lewis, who defied the state’s pandemic restrictions by reopening his business during the shutdown, was arrested on charges of violent entry to the Capitol.
When FBI agents questioned him on Jan. 15, prosecutors say, Lewis acknowledged that he entered the Capitol, but claimed he was never told that he could not be permitted to do so, despite the hundreds of police officers who fought to keep the mob out. Lewis claimed in the interview that he was “escorted” into the building by police officers and denied being involved in any violence, according to a complaint.
On Wednesday, the FBI arrested Jeffrey Alexander Smith in Coronado on suspicion of taking part in the attack. During an interview with authorities, Smith admitted to entering the Capitol during the siege and to deleting his Instagram account afterward, court records show.
According to prosecutors, Smith messaged an acquaintance, “There is no way in hell I was going to drive 38 hours from San Diego and not walk right through the front” door of the Capitol.
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