After walking out of the Capitol with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s laptop two weeks ago, Riley Williams didn’t wait long, FBI agents said, to tell the internet what she had done.
“I took Nancy Polesis [sic] hard drives. I don’t care. Kill me,” authorities say the Harrisburg woman wrote on the social media site Discord just hours after the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
She purportedly boasted of purloining other items including Pelosi’s “gravel hammwrd tbing” – an apparent reference to the speaker’s ceremonial gavel — and felt confident she had escaped scot-free.
“Like theure [sic] gonna arrest me,” Williams allegedly wrote, adding in another post hours later: “They’ll never take me alive.”
Eventually, however, they did.
Those messages, detailed in a court filing late Tuesday, formed the basis for new federal charges authorities lodged against Williams less than 24 hours after publicity surrounding her case, much of it generated on the same social media sites she frequented, prompted the 22-year-old to surrender to authorities.
And like many of the more than 100 accused rioters the Justice Department has charged to date, the impulse to document her alleged crimes online in real time led to her undoing.
In addition to the Discord messages, prosecutors say, Williams shot video on her cell phone as she stormed the Capitol with the crowd of Trump supporters, including at least two segments she posted while roaming Pelosi’s office.
In one, a woman, whose voice agents have identified as Williams’, warns a crowd of people standing around a computer in the House speaker’s conference room not to touch it without gloves. A text caption over the footage reads: “They got the laptop.”
Other messages note, “I got pepper sprayed,” and detail how she allegedly escaped from police at the scene. Officers, Williams purportedly wrote, “followed me around grabbing me while I was escaping in the crowd. I got away.”
Though she later closed her Discord account, another user had saved her messages and later posted them on Twitter.
Justice Department officials have not yet said whether they recovered Pelosi’s laptop when Williams surrendered to the FBI late Monday. They also did not indicate whether they had confirmed a tip from one of Williams’ former romantic partners that she had tried to sell the computer to a Russian spy agency.
The new chargesinclude theft of government property and obstruction of Congress, both punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson set a bail hearing for Thursday, over objections from Williams’ attorney, Lori Ulrich, who pressed him to make a decision on whether to release her sooner.
“A lot of these allegations are false,” she said, without elaborating. Ulrich did not return requests for comment later and told the judge her client had had a “horrific” past few days.
Indeed, it was less than 48 hours earlier that the FBI first publicized its search for Williams in an affidavit detailing the account from her ex.
In it, Williams is seen guiding rioters up a staircase toward Pelosi’s office.
With news of the FBI’s hunt for her whereabouts spreading Monday, Williams turned herself in.
Authorities have not yet disclosed the circumstances behind her arrest and few details have emerged since then about her life or why she was at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
For now, she remains in the Dauphin County Prison pending the bail hearing.
Read the FBI’s affidavit: