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Matthew Wood, the latest North Carolinian arrested in connection with the violent siege of the U.S. Capitol, presents a conundrum.
On one hand, a new federal court filing reveals that the Reidsville man has admitted to the FBI that he was in the building on Jan. 6, when hundreds of supporters of former President Donald Trump broke down doors and smashed windows to interrupt Congress’ certification of Trump’s electoral defeat to Joe Biden.
But Wood told investigators that he’d been pushed along by the angry crowd and only entered the building to keep from being trampled.
In fact, a photo included in the filing shows the 23-year-old Wood, a scarf draped around his neck, as one of the first intruders to climb through a broken-out window on the Senate side of the Capitol, carrying a Trump flag as he goes.
In a deleted Facebook post recovered by the FBI, Wood said police guarding the building were never the targets of the Trump insurgents.
Yet a photo included in the court filing shows Wood apparently screaming and gesturing for more Trump supporters massed in the Capitol Rotunda to battle the line of police defending it.
In an interview at his home three weeks after the siege, Wood also told the FBI that he never intended to march on the Capitol or disrupt the certification of Biden’s victory.
His Facebook posts, which Wood deleted before the interview but the FBI recovered, say differently. In them, he repeats the baseless rallying cry that Trump won.
“Our election was stolen. The system is against us. I stood up to a tyrannical government,” he wrote. “You can keep sitting or you can do something about it like we did today.”
“This is the PEOPLES house,” he boasted in another post. “We sent those politicians running. We the PEOPLE will fight for our country ... When diplomacy doesn’t work and your message has gone undelivered, it shouldn’t surprise you when we revolt.”
Wood could not be reached for comment Tuesday. His attorney, David Freedman of Winston-Salem, said in an email that his client is cooperating with the investigation and had contacted the FBI after seeing his photo on a bureau website.
Wood becomes at least the seventh North Carolinian — including a former police officer — arrested in connection with the Capitol violence, which resulted in five deaths, some 140 injured police officers and millions of dollars in damage to one of the country’s most iconic government buildings.
The state also was identified as a training site and recruiting ground for a right-wing militia group’s coordinated assault on Jan. 6, court records allege.
Wood is charged with the now-familiar litany of crimes: Knowingly Entering or Remaining in any Restricted Building or Grounds Without Lawful Authority; Violent Entry and Disorderly Conduct on Capitol Grounds, and Obstruction of Justice/Congress.
The latter charge is a felony that carries up to 20 years in prison.
The case against Wood was unsealed on Monday. He was arrested on Friday in Winston-Salem and ordered by U.S. Magistrate Judge Joi Elizabeth Peake to report to the federal courts in Washington where his case will be prosecuted.
Wood joins close to 300 people now charged in connection with the riot. Hundreds of other suspects remain under investigation.
According to an Observer public records search, Wood has no criminal history beyond a speeding ticket.
The new federal court filing says Wood called the FBI on Jan. 25 to say that he was the individual in photo No. 71 of unidentified suspects on a bureau website.
During his FBI interview, Wood acknowledged visiting the conference room of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and taking numerous photos — all of which he said he deleted before meeting with investigators at his home.
He also told agents that he deleted Facebook posts about his activities at the Capitol and deactivated his account.
Staff writer Gavin Off contributed to this report.