Rock Hill teen charged in Jan. 6 Capitol riot no longer part of Republicans at Citadel

A Citadel cadet from Rock Hill charged in connection with the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6 has been kicked out of the Republican club at the school, according to club officials.

Elias Irizarry, 19, a freshman honor student at The Citadel in Charleston, was one of two York County men charged Tuesday by the FBI with illegal entry into the building as part of the mob that stormed the Capitol. Elliot Bishai, 20, from Fort Mill, also was arrested.

The Citadel is a state-supported military college.

Kim Keelor-Parker, senior director of communications at The Citadel, said the Republican society is run by cadets and not the school. Keelor-Parker said Irizarry remains enrolled at the school.

Cadet John Mace McGrath, president of the society, told The Herald Thursday that the Republican group decided Wednesday to remove Irizarry, McGrath.

McGrath said in a telephone interview with The Herald, which like The State is a McClatchy news organization, that the Capitol insurrection was an “attack on our democracy.”

In a statement, the Citadel Republican group denounced the riot and confirmed that Irizarry is out as a member, pending outcome of the criminal case against him.

“We became aware of a Citadel Cadet who was arrested by federal authorities and charged for his involvement in the insurrection and rioting on the 6th of January this year,” the statement from McGrath said. “We can confirm that Elias Irizarry is a member of The Citadel Republican Society.”

“Effective immediately, cadet leadership has removed Cadet Irizarry as a member of The Citadel Republican Society until further notice. The Citadel Republican Society believes that everyone has the right to a fair trial and their day in court. Once this matter has been resolved, The Citadel Republican Society will take the appropriate action in accordance with our bylaws.”

The statement continued: “The events that transpired on January 6th were an attack on our democracy and we must, as Americans, stand for the rule of law regardless of our political affiliation or beliefs.”

Elias Irizarry is the son of actor Vincent Irizarry, who was in the Clint Eastwood film “Heartbreak Ridge” and other television and movie roles. Elias was had been active in Republican politics as a teen in New Jersey and York County, S.C.

Jim Boyd of Rock Hill, Irizarry’s lawyer, could not be reached Thursday.

Bishai and Irizarry were released on a personal recognizance bond Tuesday after they were arrested and appeared in federal court.

Bishai and Irizarry both are charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, illegally and knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building, and knowingly engaging in disorderly or disruptive conduct in any restricted building or grounds. Each of the respective charges is a misdemeanor and carries penalties of a year or less in prison under federal law.

Federal prosecutors and the FBI said in court and in documents that law enforcement officials have several photos and videos of Irizarry and Bishai inside the Capitol.

Elliott Bishai in the middle and Eliaz Irizarry on the right were among South Carolinians linked to the U.S. Capitol mob attack on Jan. 6, 2021.
Elliott Bishai in the middle and Eliaz Irizarry on the right were among South Carolinians linked to the U.S. Capitol mob attack on Jan. 6, 2021.

Irizarry and Bishai were identified to federal agents by a member of a North Carolina Civil Air Patrol unit they had been a part of, FBI agents said. The Civil Air Patrol is a public service non-profit group auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, according to its website.

Civil Air Patrol officials at the Gastonia Composite Squadron in North Carolina referred all questions to the national Civil Air Patrol. Efforts to reach national officials of the Civil Air Patrol were unsuccessful Thursday.