Les Little was texting with a family relative on Jan. 6 when he shared a secret:
“We just took over the Capitol,” the Catawba County man wrote from inside the building, according to court documents unsealed Thursday.
“And you are bragging?” the relative fired back in a fusillade of exclamation points and capital letters.
“’We’? THIS IS TREASON!!! IF YOU DON’T CONDEMN THIS, NEVER BOTHER SPEAKING TO ME AGAIN! HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE PEOPLE. IT’S A COUP! YOU OBVIOUSLY HATE AMERICA!!!”
Little replied: “We are stopping treason. Stealing elections is treason! “We’re not going to take it anymore!
Adding: “You’ll thank me for saving your freedom ...”
According to the FBI, Little’s family member did not express gratitude. In fact, the relative took it a step further and turned Little in.
Now the 64-year-old Claremont resident has a date with a judge in Washington, where he has been charged with four crimes.
All of the charges are tied to the storming of the Capitol by throngs of Donald Trump supporters, bent on stopping congressional certification of the now-former president’s defeat to Joe Biden. Hundreds have been arrested.
North Carolina’s footprint in the violence continues to grow. Little is at least the 10th state resident charged in connection with the rioting in which five people died and some 140 police officers were injured. The damages to the Capitol, one of the country’s most iconic architectural symbols, run into the millions of dollars.
Court filings by the U.S. Justice Department have alleged that North Carolina served as a recruiting ground and training site for right-wing groups that are now the focus of government conspiracy investigations linked to the Capitol assault.
Several of the N.C. arrests come across in court documents as family affairs. That’s the case with a former police officer from Thomasville who was arrested with her Florida brother and charged with being part of an Oath Keepers’ assault on the Capitol.
Other cases appear to reveal deep familial divisions over the events of Jan. 6. For example, Grayson Sherrill of Cherryville was photographed inside the building. Like Little, the Gaston County man was turned in by his family, a practice that’s been repeated across the country.
‘Caught up in the moment’
Little, whose first name is James, was arrested by the FBI on Wednesday in Claremont, about 45 miles northwest of Charlotte. On Thursday, he appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Cayer of Charlotte, charged with unlawful entry onto government grounds, two counts of disorderly conduct in a restricted building or on Capitol grounds, and parading or demonstrating in the Capitol.
Those charges — and Little — now move to the federal courts in D.C., which are handling the Capitol prosecutions.
Little’s court-appointed attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender Peter Adolf of Charlotte, did not respond to an Observer email seeking comment.
During an interview with federal agents a week after the break-in, according to an FBI affidavit, Little acknowledged that he traveled to Washington for the planned protests surrounding Trump’s unfounded claims of a stolen election. But Little said he had no intention of entering the Capitol.
His plans changed, he said, after protesters began breaching the building, when Little said he got “caught up in the moment,” the affidavit alleges.
A photo included by the FBI in its filing shows Little wandering through the Capitol with other intruders. He told agents that he traded fist-bumps and took photographs of himself in the Senate chamber, which he says he sent to people he trusted.
Little told the FBI that he again became a little lost in the moment when he sent the text message to his relative boasting that the Trump supporters had taken over the Capitol.
The relative had the last word.