Feds say Chicago man charged with entering US Capitol during attack posted photo outside Nancy Pelosi’s office

Jason Meisner, Annie Sweeney and Megan Crepeau, Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — A Chicago man was arrested Wednesday on federal charges alleging he participated in last week’s mob attack on the U.S. Capitol, posting a photo of the plaque outside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ransacked office.

Kevin Lyons, 40, of the Gladstone Park neighborhood on the Northwest Side, was charged in a criminal complaint in Washington with misdemeanor counts of knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Authorities said he also took phone videos while in the building.

He was arrested at his home in the 5500 block of North Mason Avenue and appeared via a telephone link from jail before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Fuentes, who ordered him released on a $10,000 recognizance bond.

As part of the conditions of release, Fuentes ordered Lyons to have no contact with anyone involved in the Jan. 6 riot or anyone planning “any act that would impede or disturb the normal course of business” of Congress or any other federal agency.

Lyons spoke quickly when asked if he understood each condition, at one point laughing as he said, “I understand and agree, your honor.”

His court-appointed attorney, Lawrence Wolf Levin, did not address the charges during the hearing.

Before the incident at the Capitol, Lyons had posted a message on his Instagram account stating “STOP THE STEAL” — a reference to President Donald Trump’s false claims the election was stolen. He also posted a map showing he was headed from Chicago to Washington with a caption that read, “I refuse to tell my children that I sat back and did nothing.”

It appears from that account that Lyons works as an HVAC technician.

According to the 12-page criminal complaint, Lyons was interviewed by the FBI in Chicago two days after the riot. At first, he was “evasive” about whether he’d been at the Capitol, saying he’d had a “dream” where people were being herded by a mob and there was “a lot of banging on doors” and “paper being thrown about.”

Agents then confronted him with a photo he’d posted to Instagram and then deleted showing the name plate outside Pelosi’s office with the caption, “WHOS HOUSE?!?!? OUR HOUSE!!”

“Wow you are pretty good, that was up for only an hour,” Lyons said to investigators, according to the complaint.

Lyons then admitted he had indeed entered the Capitol but claimed he’d been swept up by the mob and that there was “very little that he could do to escape the crowd because he weighed 140 pounds,” according to the complaint.

Lyons told agents he walked into the building through a set of rear doors and wandered to the Rotunda to get his bearings. He went up to the second floor but didn’t go to the House chambers because he didn’t know where it was located, according to the document.

He said when he entered the “big boss” office — a reference to Pelosi — he saw a broken mirror and up to 30 people inside. A Capitol police officer then entered with his gun drawn and ordered them out, according to the complaint. Lyons said he put his hands over his head and walked out of the building and to his car, and then returned to Chicago.

At the request of the agents, Lyons uploaded the videos he’d taken of the incident to YouTube and later sent a link to investigators.

“Hello Nice FBI Lady,” Lyons emailed a special agent on Jan. 9., according to the complaint. “Here are the links to the videos. Looks like Podium Guy is in one of them, less the podium. Let me know if you need anything else.”

“Podium Guy” was an apparent reference to Adam Johnson, 36, who was charged with participating in the riot after he was allegedly caught on camera carrying the House speaker’s lectern.

Neighbors on Wednesday said Lyons had lived in an upstairs apartment in the quiet block and worked for a local heating and cooling company. His company repair van was still parked out front Wednesday afternoon.

Lyons’ Instagram profile, meanwhile, contained numerous posts decrying Chicago violence and the recent civil unrest over police shootings of Black people.

Most of the other Instagram posts that remained accessible Wednesday had to do with Lyons’ work in HVAC: his tools, scenes from his jobs around the city and inside jokes aimed at fellow HVAC workers.

In others, he showed off his guns, including one photo of a firearm resting between his legs as he sat in the driver’s seat of a car. “All I want in life is to bring people comfort,” he wrote. “Please don’t make me bring the pain.”

In October, he posted a photo of what purported to be an arrest report. Lyons wrote in the caption: “Schaumburg PD didn’t appreciate me taking the fight to Antifa today,” he wrote.

Another post showed Lyons carrying what appeared to be a black pistol and wearing a gas mask and flak jacket with the words “HVAC TECH” on the vest. “Just donning my P.P.E. to run service calls in Chicago,” he wrote in the caption.

Court records show Lyons’ only Cook County conviction was a misdemeanor battery dating to 1998. Details on that incident were not immediately available. He also was charged in 2014 with obstructing an officer after allegedly “taunting” police who were arresting someone else after a traffic stop. That case was dismissed shortly after it was filed.

Lyons is the second person from the Chicago area to be charged with directly participating in the events last Wednesday, when supporters of the Republican president stormed the U.S. Capitol to stop Congress from ratifying the electoral vote for President-elect Joe Biden, leading to the deaths of a police officer and four others.

Last week, Bradley Rukstales, of Inverness, then-CEO of a Schaumburg tech firm, was charged in U.S. District Court in Washington with being part of the same mob.

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(Chicago Tribune’s Paige Fry contributed to this report.)