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Austin-area friends charged in US Capitol riots

Records indicate the men are residents of Bastrop and Georgetown.

AUSTIN, Texas — Two Austin-area friends have been charged after being linked to the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

After photos and videos of the riots were shared across social media, an individual contacted the National Threat Operations Center on Jan. 8 to report that Jeffery Shane Witcher and Richard Barnard had been inside the capitol on that day, after Witcher shared videos from inside.

Special agents received that footage on Jan. 16 and contacted Witcher. He then contacted the FBI and requested an interview.

Court documents state that Witcher also called the FBI on Jan. 26 saying that he was anxious to meet and conduct an interview regarding his involvement in the riot. Witcher reported he had deleted most of the videos and pictures he took while he was at an Atlanta airport. 

The documents state he had seen what was happening on the news and felt the videos could be self-incriminating. At this time, he said insisted he was not deleting the files as a way of destroying evidence. He also agreed to bring in his phone for the interview.

During that interview, Witcher said he traveled to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 5 with two close friends, one of whom he said entered the Capitol with him.

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Agents were later able to recover the files deleted from his phone. In one of those files, Witcher can be heard saying, "I am in the White House! We crashed this. Our house! We did it! We did it, family, we did it!"

The documents state that Witcher later clarified he was "so emotional and invested in the moment" that he had briefly forgotten he was in the Capitol building and not the White House.

Officials contacted Barnard of Georgetown on Jan. 20 and met with him in Austin on Jan. 26, where he admitted to entering the Capitol during the riots. He also admitted to deleting files from his phone, which could not be recovered.

Records indicate Witcher is a Bastrop resident. His prior charges include an assault with injury charge through the Austin Police Department from 1984 and a disorderly conduct charge from the Smithville Police Department from 1983. Records also indicate charges were filed against him in February. He was indicted last week.

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