Federal grand jury indicts Morgantown man and Pennsylvania man for Jan. 6 role in Capitol Building riot

Eric Cravey, Times West Virginian, Fairmont
·3 min read

Mar. 19—WASHINGTON — A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia handed down Friday a 10-count indictment against a Morgantown sandwich shop owner and a Pennsylvania man for their role in the Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol building that claimed the life of U.S. Capitol Officer Brian Sicknick.

Julian Elie Khater, of State College, Pa., and George Pierre Tanios, of Morgantown, face three counts each of assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon and aiding and abetting. Other charges include conspiracy to impede or injure an officer, civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon and causing significant bodily injury.

Both men were first charged on March 16 in U.S. District Court.

According to the indictment, Tanios "carried a canister of chemical spray with in a backpack that he was wearing" while near the Lower West Terrace of the U.S. Capitol Building. At some point during the riot, while the mob was attempting to break through a line of police who were protecting the building, Khater asked Tanios for the chemical spray.

Khater then retrieved the chemical spray for the backpack. "Khater and Tanios "planned and discussed the timing of when to utilize the chemical spray against law enforcement," states the indictment.

The indictment, which was produced using information from a U.S Department of Justice investigation, said Khater "deployed a chemical spray directly at law enforcement officers in the police line guarding the Lower West Terrace of the U.S. Capitol Building...Khater utilized a chemical spray against United States Capitol Police Officer [Brian] Sicknick, United States Capitol Police Officer C. Edwards, Metropolitan Police Officer D. Chapman, and other law enforcement officers," states the indictment.

According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, Khater and Tanios were at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and were observed in video footage working together to assault law enforcement officers with an unknown chemical substance by spraying officers directly in the face and eyes. During the investigation, it is alleged that law enforcement discovered video that depicted Khater asking Tanios to "give me that bear s*it." Tanios replied, "Hold on, hold on, not yet, not yet... it's still early." Khater then retrieved a canister from Tanios' backpack and walked through the crowd to within a few steps of the police perimeter.

The video shows Khater with his right arm up high in the air, appearing to be holding a canister in his right hand and aiming it at the officers' direction while moving his right arm from side to side. The complaint affidavit states that Officers Sicknick, Edwards, and Chapman, who were all standing within a few feet of Khater, each reacted to being sprayed in the face. The officers retreated, bringing their hands to their faces and rushing to find water to wash out their eyes.

The FBI's Washington Field Office, with assistance from the FBI Pittsburgh and Newark Field Offices, the United States Capitol Police, and the Metropolitan Police Department are investigating the case.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, with valuable assistance from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of West Virginia and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey are prosecuting the case.

According to the initial criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, "A tipster to the FBI provided information that TANIOS and KHATER knew each other and grew up together in New Jersey."

At press time, Tanios remained held in the North Central Regional Jail on behalf of the Department of Justice. No bond amount has been set.

Reach Eric Cravey at 304-367-2523.