Man who carried tomahawk into Capitol on Jan. 6 receives prison sentence 

National News

By Zachary Stieber 
Contributing Writer 

A U.S. military veteran was sentenced by a federal judge on Thursday to two years in prison after being convicted by the same judge of nine charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol. 

Alex Harkrider, 36, of Texas, was also sentenced by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth to two years of supervised release and must also pay $2,000 in restitution. 

Judge Lamberth, an appointee of former President Ronald Reagan, convicted Harkrider on civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, and seven other counts after a bench trial earlier this year. 

Harkrider’s status as a Marine veteran, who deployed to the Middle East multiple times, was highlighted by Lamberth, who brought up his own military experience during the sentencing hearing in Washington. 

“You’re one of the cases that makes Jan. 6 difficult for me, because you’re basically a good person who did wrong that day,” Lamberth said, WUSA-TV reported. 

But Lamberth opted for a sentence that represented the maximum recommended under sentencing guidelines, saying it was important the public receive a message that a Jan. 6 repeat would not be tolerated. 

Harkrider’s sentence is being stayed while the U.S. Supreme Court considers overturning the obstruction charge in a case brought by another Jan. 6 convict. 

In a letter to the judge, Harkrider said that he was “fully acknowledging the severity of my actions on Jan. 6, 2021.” He said that he was instilled in the Marines “with values meant to guide me through life with honor and integrity” and regretted “falling short of these principles on that day.” 

He added: “I understand the need to face the consequences of my actions, and I am prepared to do so, but I also humbly request the chance to demonstrate my capacity for making amends and for genuine rehabilitation.” 

A number of people submitted character references to the court, including fellow Marine veteran William Thomas Lauterbach IV.  

Lauterbach said that Harkrider was “a dedicated and faithful Marine” and hoped the judge would be lenient. 

According to court documents, Harkrider traveled to Washington with Ryan Nichols, another Marine veteran, and both went inside the Capitol on Jan. 6. 

The pair were inside the building for about 20 minutes, authorities said. 

Harkrider was pictured carrying a tomahawk, although he was not accused of carrying out any violence. He did take a broken piece of furniture with him back to Texas, resulting in a charge of theft of government property. 

While Nichols assaulted law enforcement officers, Harkrider did not become violent, his lawyer said in a sentencing memorandum. 

Harkrider went to Washington to attend the speech delivered by then-President Donald Trump and “never planned or envisioned entering the U.S. Capitol,” the lawyer said. “Alex had no real understanding of what was even happening there that day except that Trump had asked everyone to march down and show support.” 

Harkrider posed for pictures outside the building but “after seeing what really happened that day by watching film on numerous platforms, Mr. Harkrider regrets going into the Capitol and even posing for these photos at all,” the lawyer said. “He sincerely had no idea that there was to be so much violence that day and that officers and protesters alike would be injured. He never wants to come to D.C. again.” 

She requested a sentence of time served, 120 hours of community service, and $2,000 in restitution, citing factors such as his military service and how he didn’t carry out violence on Jan. 6. 

Federal prosecutors asked for Lamberth to depart from the guideline range and sentence Harkrider to three years behind bars. They cited how he carried the tomahawk and wore body armor to the Capitol, was part of a crowd that pushed against police officers in a tunnel leading to a Capitol entrance, and entered a private office in the building through a broken window. They noted that at one point, in response to Nichols saying “we’re going to drag [expletives] through the streets” and choke them, Harkrider said: “Cut their freaking head off! You can do it.” 

The requested variance from guidelines “reflects the gravity of Harkrider’s conduct,” prosecutors said. 

Nichols was sentenced by Lamberth earlier in May to 63 months in prison and three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $200,000. 

As of May 6, more than 1,400 people have been charged over Jan. 6. About 820 have pleaded guilty. Another 199 people were found guilty at trial. 

Of the approximately 884 people who have been sentenced, 61% have been sentenced to time in prison. 

U.S. officials say they’re still seeking people who committed crimes on Jan. 6 and are still receiving assistance from tipsters in identifying and finding the people. 

Alex Harkrider inside the U.S. Capitol with the tomahawk he was carrying visible, on Jan. 6, 2021. Department of Justice photo. 
Alex Harkrider inside the U.S. Capitol with the tomahawk he was carrying visible, on Jan. 6, 2021. Department of Justice photo. 

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