Man now living in Alaska charged with participating in Jan. 6 riot at U.S. Capitol

Mar. 8—A man now living in Girdwood was arrested Thursday on federal charges that accuse him of participating in the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Eric Richard Staples, 33, appears to be one of four people with Alaska connections to be charged in the riot that has so far resulted in the arrests of more than 1,100.

Staples, who had his first hearing Thursday in Anchorage federal court, told U.S. Magistrate Judge Matthew Scoble that he and his wife live in Girdwood. He provided little additional personal information.

It wasn't immediately clear why Staples' arrest came more than three years after the attack on the Capitol. Daniel Ball, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in the District of Columbia, said the lapse in time was "just part of the investigatory process" when asked about the delay. Ball did not provide additional details about that process.

It also wasn't immediately clear how long Staples has lived in Alaska. He was registered to vote in Texas in 2020, and records more recently listed addresses in Wyoming as his residence.

The charges against Staples were filed in December, but the case was sealed until his arrest this week, according to Ball.

The FBI received "a number of public tips" in January 2021 regarding Staples' involvement in the riot, according to a statement of facts written by an FBI agent and included with the charges. During an interview in October 2021, a tipster provided screenshots of Staples' Facebook posts about going to the riot and photos of him at the U.S. Capitol, the statement said.

Staples deleted his Facebook and other social media accounts by the morning of Jan. 7, the statement said. The FBI executed a search warrant on the account and found the photos and posts about the riot. An officer reviewed closed-circut television footage and identified Staples entering the Capitol through a window near the Senate Wing Door, the statement said.

During an interview at the FBI's Wyoming office in December 2021, Staples told an investigator that he flew from Houston to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 5 and met up with family to attend then-President Donald Trump's "Stop the Steal" rally the next day, the statement said.

"He stated that he went with a good heart and with the intention of protesting," the statement said. "Staples indicated that he felt it was his duty to attend and that he knew it would be a historic day."

Staples told the investigator he walked to the capitol after Trump's speech, the statement said. The area was crowded and people were climbing up the walls when he arrived, according to the statement.

Staples said he went into the building with another man for about a minute and took photos with his phone, the statement said. Security footage showed them leaving the building through the same window they entered, the statement said.

Staples is charged with four federal misdemeanors: knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building; disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building; disorderly or disruptive conduct in a capitol building; and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a capitol building.

Upon his release from custody Thursday, Staples was ordered to comply with conditions of release, including possessing no firearms or traveling outside the country. Staples during the hearing said his wife owns firearms but agreed to secure them during his release.

The case will be prosecuted out of district court in Washington, D.C., Staples is scheduled to appear by Zoom for his next hearing on March 21.

Three other people with Alaska ties arrested in Capitol breach charges were sentenced in separate cases last year.

Aaron Mileur of Wasilla was sentenced to two years on probation after he pleaded guilty to a charge of demonstrating or parading in the Capitol. Christian Manley was sentenced to more than four years in prison followed by three years of probation.

An Anchorage-raised man who goes by the name "Baked Alaska" online was arrested in January 2021. Anthime Gionet was sentenced to 2 months in prison followed by two years of probation.

Staples' attorney did not immediately respond to an interview request this week.