Maine man made threatening calls to Rep. Pingree's office before joining Capitol riot, prosecutors say

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Megan Gray, Portland Press Herald, Maine
·5 min read
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Mar. 31—The Lebanon man charged with injuring police officers during the January riot at the U.S. Capitol called the office of Rep. Chellie Pingree just weeks before to say "we're coming for her," according to a new court filing.

Kyle Fitzsimons, 37, was arrested in February in Maine. A federal grand jury indicted him the same month on 10 charges, including two counts of inflicting bodily injury on certain officers. He is the only Mainer so far to face federal prosecution for allegedly joining the deadly insurrection with supporters of former President Donald Trump.

Five people died as a result of the violence, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. The officer was killed while defending the Capitol from the mob of white supremacists, far right extremists and Trump supporters. Federal prosecutors have charged more than 300 people in connection with the riot.

Fitzsimons waived his right to argue bail until he had been transferred to the District of Columbia. He was scheduled to arrive there earlier this month, and the U.S. Attorney's Office has now filed a motion this month for continued pretrial detention. Federal prosecutors said in that document that Fitzsimons would be a danger to the community if released.

Among the arguments to keep him in custody were new details about three calls Fitzsimons made to a congressional office representing his district. The document does not mention Pingree by name, but her congressional district includes Lebanon. A spokeswoman for Pingree confirmed the phone calls came to her office and were reported to Capitol Police. She did not immediately respond to a question about when the report was made to police.

No one has filed a response to the government's motion yet, and it is not clear whether Fitzsimons has a lawyer. The attorney who briefly represented Fitzsimons in Maine did not return an email Wednesday afternoon. The court docket in the District of Columbia does not list a current attorney for him, and the federal public defender office there did not return a message Wednesday afternoon.

In the motion, the federal prosecutors described two calls in December, less than three weeks before the riot.

On Dec. 17, Fitzsimons allegedly called Pingree's office and said he opposed impeachment for Trump.

"He was reported to be very aggressive, shouting and yelling," the motion said. "Fitzsimons said that he was going to 'give it to her hard' and that 'we're coming for her' (referring to the Congressperson)."

He allegedly called again the next day to say the Electoral College vote is "corrupt and total garbage," the motion said.

"He urged the Congressperson to dispute the election results in January," it said. "He stated that Biden is a corrupt skeleton and that this is going to be Civil War."

The motion also cited an earlier call from March 19, 2020, when Fitzsimons called the office to demand the number for Chinese President Xi Jinping.

"Fitzsimons said that he wanted to start a war with China and if the individual answering the phone didn't give him the number, he was going to go out on the street and start talking to the Chinese people he saw," the motion said. "He said many times that he wanted to start a war and when the staffer asked him for a name, he said 'This is Kyle Fitzsimons, the man who wants to start a war.'"

An affidavit filed earlier included screenshots from surveillance and policy body cameras that allegedly show Fitzsimons at the front of the group of rioters. It said he was observed "pushing and grabbing against officers, who were holding a police line in an arched entranceway on the lower west terrace of the Capitol Building." When he was hit by officers' batons, Fitzsimons lowered his shoulder and charged the line of police, the affidavit said. He retreated into the crowd after scuffling with officers.

The latest motion also included more detailed allegations about those encounters with police. The prosecutors said Fitzsimons tried to pull one sergeant into the crowd, and that person needed to strike him several times with a baton to free himself from Fitzsimons' grip. They also said he pulled aside gas mask worn by a detective before another person used a spray on the detective.

Neither document said Fitzsimons ever entered the building itself, as other participants did.

Fitzsimons declined an interview request when he was arrested in February, and additional efforts to seek an interview have been unsuccessful. But, before his arrest, he spoke to the Rochester Voice newspaper in New Hampshire and called into a Lebanon Board of Selectmen meeting to describe in experience at the riot. He told both that he expected the event to be a peaceful one. He described wearing a "costume" — his white butcher jacket — and he told the newspaper that he carried an unstrung bow as a sign of peace. He also told them he was injured by a police officer's baton to his head and needed six stitches at a nearby hospital.

"The march was, in my belief, to demonstrate that Trump, a lion, was leading an army of lambs to change the corrupt fraud that had been perpetuated," he said during the Lebanon meeting.

The prosecutors said his threatening calls to Pingree's office dispute that claim. It also cited a social media post from December in which Fitzsimons repeated the baseless view that Trump lost the 2020 election because of voter fraud and offered to lead a caravan to Washington to challenge the results.

"If a call went out for able bodies, would there be an answer?" read the Facebook post signed with the name "Kyle Fitzsimons."

The motion argued Fitzsimons would be a danger to the community and a flight risk if released. It also cited a text message from his wife to demonstrate that he would be unlikely to have support from his closest family members if released.

"Fitzsimons statements on the Facebook Lebanon Truth Seekers page and through calls to the Congressional office catalogued that his intentions in Washington, D.C. were not harmless or 'peaceful' as he later recounted to the Rochester Voice, but instead filled with aggression and anger," the motion said.

The motion did not mention calls to any other members of Maine's congressional delegation. Spokespeople for Rep. Jared Golden and Sen. Susan Collins did not return emails asking about contacts with Fitzsimons. A spokesman for Sen. Angus King said he could not share any information about constituent calls to the office because they are confidential.