Despite his participation in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Gary Wickersham, of West Chester, strongly believed several false — and contradictory — things about it to be true.
It was antifa, not supporters of Donald Trump, that smashed through police barricades, assaulted officers and sacked the building, he told FBI agents. And Democrats had purposefully ensured lax security that day hoping Trump fans would invade so they could prosecute them, he claimed.
As for how he squared any of that with his own admitted presence in the building, Wickersham offered only one explanation: He’s a taxpaying American and is authorized to enter the Capitol whenever he wants.
That FBI account of a Jan. 15 interview with Wickersham, an 80-year-old retired U.S. Army vet, was contained in documents unsealed late Tuesday, revealing him to be the 40th Pennsylvanian publicly charged with taking part in the deadly riot.
Agents said they identified him three days after the riot when an acquaintance shared texts Wickersham sent to others detailing the 10 to 15 minutes he spent in the chaotic scene at the Capitol.
Security footage and social media photos tracked him through the Capitol’s hallways where the footage allegedly shows him confronting two different officers.
When agents showed up at his home in Chester County a week later, he didn’t hesitate to admit he was there, according to court filings in his case.
He said he’d traveled by bus to attend Trump’s rally, then marched toward the Capitol, where he saw a mob “cursing, screaming, knocking cops away, breaking down windows and doors.”
He followed them inside, he said, according to an arrest affidavit filed in his case, where he witnessed what he described as a “rugby scrum” between the crowd and police in the Capitol crypt. He guided agents through the ambling walk he took through the hallways, noting that he passed the office of House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.
It remains unclear why despite that admission investigators did not charge Wickersham until earlier this month and he was not arrested until Tuesday. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington did not immediately return requests for comment.
His attorney, Michael G. Noone, said his client self-surrendered to agents on Tuesday but declined to discuss the case except to say that “he’s talking these charges very seriously,” he said.
In a court hearing Tuesday in federal court in Philadelphia, he was released pending trial after agreeing to have his case heard — like those of the more than 400 Capitol riot defendants — in Washington.
He faces charges of disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and unauthorized entry into a restricted area, charges punishable by up to a year in prison.