News Briefs

Kansan charged in Jan. 6 riot at U.S. Capitol near scene of fatal shooting

By: - September 22, 2021 3:34 pm
Michael Eckerman, 37, of Wichita, is charged with federal crimes for alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol in protest of the election victory of President Joe Biden. The photograph is included in the FBI's affidavit filed against Eckerman. (Screen capture/Kansas Reflector)

Michael Eckerman, 37, of Wichita, is charged with federal crimes, accused of involvement in the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol in protest of the election victory of President Joe Biden. This photograph is included in the FBI’s affidavit filed against Eckerman. (Screen capture/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — A Wichita man involved in the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol faces eight criminal counts for allegedly surging to the front of the crowd and pushing a law enforcement officer down a flight of stairs.

An 11-page affidavit from the FBI that was part of the criminal complaint submitted to federal court indicated Michael Eckerman, 37, engaged in assault at the Capitol of a law enforcement officer trying to hold back rioters. He used “aggressive force,” the document says, to cause an officer to fall down a small set of stairs where he was subsequently sprayed in the face with a fire extinguisher.

Eckerman was arrested on counts of disorderly conduct, obstructing an official proceeding, entering a restricting building, civil disorder, entering the floor of Congress, demonstrating in the Capitol and assault. He was released on $10,000 bond following an initial court appearance Monday before a U.S. magistrate judge in Wichita.

Members of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate were convened Jan. 6 to certify the Electoral College vote of the 2020 presidential election, won by President Joe Biden. The advance on the Capitol occurred after a rally for supporters of former President Donald Trump.

The FBI affidavit said Eckerman was observed on video making his way toward the back entrance to the House chamber, where U.S. Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed by a law enforcement officer as she attempted to breach a barricaded door after glass was broken out.

Within two minutes of the shooting, the document said, video captured Eckerman leaving the Capitol. Outside the building, video from included an interview with a man the FBI identified as Eckerman.

“I don’t know her name,” Eckerman said in the brief interview. “All I know is we went there as patriots. She is dead because we’re here. Those m—– f—— are traitors.”

The FBI’s affidavit pointed to surveillance video indicating Eckerman, wearing a tactical vest and red Trump hat, walked through Statuary Hall at the Capitol with two people cloaked in U.S. flags. He moved to the front of a group of protesters as the throng worked past police toward the U.S. House side of the building.

He allegedly posed for a picture next to a portrait of George Washington hanging in the Rayburn Room of the Capitol. He apparently posted an image of the himself with the painting on Facebook, the FBI document said.

The court document said Eckerman sent photographs of the chaotic event in Washington to friends in Wichita, where he had attended Wichita West High School.

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.