Barber appears in court on Capitol riot charges
PARKERSBURG — Former Parkersburg City Councilman Eric Barber said on Jan. 6 that he walked to the U.S. Capitol, climbed the steps and looked inside as protesters stormed the building, but he remained outside.
A criminal complaint filed in federal court and unsealed Wednesday after Barber’s arrest on charges including disorderly conduct and theft paints a different picture.
Barber, 41, appeared Wednesday afternoon before Magistrate Judge Dwane L. Tinsley in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia at the Robert C. Byrd United States Courthouse in Charleston.
During the hearing, which was streamed live, Tinsley read the charges of entering restricted buildings or grounds, disorderly conduct and theft.
Barber waived an identity hearing to determine whether he was the person identified in the complaint filed Feb. 16 with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The complaint had been sealed until an arrest warrant was executed.
Documents posted on the federal courts’ public records site indicate Tinsley ordered Barber be released on a $10,000 unsecured bond.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday, March 10, in Washington, D.C.
On Jan. 6, protesters who had attended a rally in support of then-President Donald Trump marched to the U.S. Capitol, where Congress was meeting to certify the results of the Nov. 3 general election, won by President Joe Biden. Trump had spoken at the rally, repeating unsubstantiated claims that the election had been stolen through widespread fraud and urged supporters to “fight like hell.”
Protesters forced their way into the Capitol, causing members of Congress to be evacuated and delaying the certification for hours. Five people died during the chaos.
The criminal complaint, filed by a special agent with the FBI’s Washington field office, said the agency received seven tips in the week following the riot saying Barber was at the Capitol. Some cited his personal Facebook page and interviews given to local media, while others pointed to a photo and video being circulated on social media that appeared to show Barber inside the building, wearing a “green combat style helmet,” the complaint said.
In late January, the agent said he conducted a phone interview with a member of the Parkersburg Police Department, who said they had received reports from the public about Barber’s presence at the Capitol and indicated he recognized Barber in the photo.
The agent said he reviewed pictures of Barber and believed they matched the man in the photos as well.
He also reviewed security video from the Capitol, two still images from which are included in the complaint. The agent says they show Barber taking a selfie in the Capitol rotunda and going through equipment at a C-SPAN media station in the Statuary Hall.
“This video clearly depicts Barber searching through items at the media stand, before appearing to unplug something and take it with him,” the complaint said.
The agent says he believes the item was a portable power station, valued at $52. It was reported missing by the technician who operated the stand.
It was not immediately clear Wednesday when and where Barber was arrested.
Assistant Federal Public Defender Rhett Johnson was assigned to represent Barber in Wednesday’s hearing. He declined comment on the case.
Barber declined to make a statement Wednesday evening.