Summit man accused of firing gun during Jan. 6 riot at U.S. Capitol

A south suburban man is charged with breaching a police line during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., and firing a gun into the air, according to federal authorities.

John Banuelos, 39, of Summit, is facing multiple felony charges in federal court in Washington, including civil disorder, entering or remaining in restricted grounds with a dangerous weapon and discharging a weapon in or on Capitol grounds. He’s also charged with a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct in a Capitol building.

The most serious charges in the criminal complaint carry a maximum of 10 years in prison if convicted.

Banuelos, who is among nearly 50 Illinoisans charged in the breach of the Capitol, was arrested Friday morning and appeared at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in Chicago dressed in a blue T-shirt with another shirt wrapped around his wrists, apparently to conceal handcuffs. He spoke only to say “Yes, ma’am” when asked if he understood his rights.

After prosecutors sought to have Banuelos detained pending trial based on a danger to the community, U.S. Magistrate Judge Beth Jantz set a detention hearing for Wednesday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney LeighAnn Thomas also said Banuelos had been “verbally abusive” toward deputy U.S. marshals after he was taken into custody and asked the judge to warn him about the behavior.

“This is a very serious case and any sort of abusiveness, verbal or physical, while in custody can make it more serious,” the judge told Banuelos.

Banuelos was identified as in attendance during the Jan. 6, 2021, “Stop the Steal” rally held by former President Donald Trump after losing the 2020 election, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Illinois. Just before 1:30 p.m., he moved toward the front of a mob as police officers were trying to reestablish a police line with metal barricades.

Capitol building surveillance footage showed Banuelos pointing at police officers and kicking a barricade twice, according to a complaint. He walked back and through the crowd at the West Plaza for about half an hour, the document said, then used his body to push against officers to breach the police line, along with other rioters.

At one point, he raised his jacket to show a gun in his waistband, the complaint said. He then moved to the south side of the plaza and was part of a crowd that breached the police line, it said.

Just after 2:30 p.m., Banuelos is seen on the footage climbing scaffolding on the Inaugural stage, according to the complaint. The footage allegedly shows him waving to the crowd, pulling out the gun and firing two shots into the air.

A photograph included with the complaint shows Banuelos standing on the scaffolding wearing black jeans with knee pads. He’s shown looking upward and firing the gun.

The FBI distributed a photograph of Banuelos that was recognized by someone who called on Feb. 4, 2021, and reported they have known him for years, the complaint said. The witness told investigators that Banuelos told them he was captured on video by Vice News.

NBC News in 2022 identified Banuelos as a man accused of fatally stabbing a 19-year-old in a park in Salt Lake City in July of 2021. When questioned by Salt Lake City police, NBC reported, Banuelos indicated he knew the FBI may be looking for him in connection with the riots.

“I was in the D.C. riots. You can look me up, OK?” he told police, according to NBC.

Banuelos was among some 48 Illinoisans charged so far in the Capitol breach, an ongoing investigation that has been described by prosecutors as the largest criminal probe in the country’s history. In Illinois, those charged have included a Chicago police officer, a real estate broker, a tech company executive and a retired firefighter.

Nationwide, more than 1,300 people have been arrested in all 50 states and the District of Columbia on charges stemming from the Capitol breach, according to the U.S. Justice Department.