Former Air Force officer gets prison term for Jan. 6 Capitol attack
A retired Air Force officer who stormed the U.S. Capitol dressed in combat gear and carrying zip-tie handcuffs was sentenced to two years in prison.
Larry Brock Jr. of Grapevine, Texas, joined the rioters on the Senate floor minutes after then-Vice President Mike Pence, senators and their staff evacuated to escape the mob attacking the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
U.S. District Judge John Bates also sentenced Brock, 55, to two years of supervised release and 100 hours of community service. Brock, who declined to speak before the judge imposed his sentence Friday, is to report to prison at a date to be determined.
Prosecutors had recommended a sentence of five years in prison and three years of supervised release.
Bates convicted Brock in November after he waived his right to a jury trial.
The judge said Brock had expressed “very troubling” and violent rhetoric before Jan. 6. He read aloud several of Brock’s social media postings, calling them “really pretty astounding” coming from a former high-ranking military officer.
“That’s chilling stuff, and it does reflect a purpose to stop the certification of the election,” Bates said.
Prosecutors said Brock believed baseless conspiracy theories that the 2020 election was stolen from then-President Trump.
“We need to execute the traitors that are trying to steal the election, and that includes the leaders of the media and social media aiding and abetting the coup plotters,” Brock wrote in a Nov. 9. 2020, Facebook post.
In a Facebook message to another user that Christmas Eve, he outlined his “plan of action if Congress fails to act” on Jan. 6. Part of the plan was to “seize all Democratic politicians and Biden key staff and select Republicans.”
His plan also called for “interrogations using measures we used on Al Qaeda to gain evidence on the coup,” and a “general pardon for all crimes up to and including murder [for] those restoring the Constitution and putting down the Democratic Insurrection.”
Brock was not accused of using violence on Jan. 6, but prosecutors said his behavior was “disturbingly premeditated.”
“Had the Senate Gallery not been emptied minutes before, Brock could have come face-to-face with the politicians he had fantasized about seizing and interrogating,” they wrote in a filing.
Bates convicted Brock of all six counts in his indictment, including the felony of obstruction of an official proceeding, the joint session of Congress for certifying Joe Biden’s victory.
Defense attorney Charles Burnham said it was “inconceivable that [Brock] was motivated by anything other than genuine concern for democracy.”
“If Mr. Brock was sincerely motivated by high ideals, it significantly reduces his culpability,” Burnham wrote in a court filing.
Brock attended the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally where Trump spoke to a crowd of supporters, and wore a helmet and tactical vest when he joined the mob that attacked the Capitol. He entered the building roughly 12 minutes after other rioters initially breached its doors.
Inside, Brock picked up a discarded pair of zip-tie handcuffs, then examined paperwork on senators’ desks — which prosecutors said “was consistent with [his] stated overall mission [of] intelligence gathering to stop the certification and the transfer of power.”
Why so many military veterans and former and current police officers support — and take part in — far-right groups and protests, including the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Brock, who flew combat missions in Afghanistan before retiring as a lieutenant colonel, graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1989. He was on active duty until 1998 and in the reserves until 2014.
In a letter to the judge, a retired Air Force major general praised his service. The major general, whose name was redacted from public court filings, said Brock risked his life to protect U.S. forces from a Taliban attack in Afghanistan, flying into a valley “saturated with enemy forces.”
Brock was working as a commercial pilot in 2021, but his lawyer said the Federal Aviation Administration revoked his licenses after his arrest that January.
About 1,000 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Jan. 6 attack. At least 70 of the over 400 sentenced have served in the military, according to an Associated Press review of court records.
Also Friday, a rioter who signed up for the Air Force after assaulting police at the Capitol was sentenced to three years and four months in prison. Aiden Bilyard, now 20, sprayed a chemical irritant at police officers before smashing a Capitol window with a baseball bat.
He was in basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas when the FBI questioned him, but later returned home to Cary, N.C., and last year pleaded guilty to an assault charge.
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