Accused of taking part in storming of Capitol

The FBI on Tuesday (Jan. 12) arrested a Beacon man who participated in the storming of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., last week. (On Saturday, agents arrested a Newburgh man on similar charges.)

William Joseph Pepe, 31, of Beacon, was arrested at 1 p.m. in the parking lot of a bank in White Plains, a law enforcement official told The New York Times and NBC News. He was scheduled to appear in federal court in White Plains on Wednesday (Jan. 13) to answer to a criminal complaint filed two days earlier in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that accused him of unlawful entry of a restricted building.

The FBI and the Washington, D.C., police circulated a photo taken by a news photographer of a man identified as Pepe standing in the Rotunda of the Capitol. The man was among the rioters who pushed through barricades to occupy the building on Jan. 6 while lawmakers attempted to count the electoral votes confirming Joe Biden as the next president.

A man identified as Beacon resident Will Pepe (right) is shown in a news photo distributed by the FBI of rioters in the Rotunda of the Capitol on Jan. 6.

A phone number thought to belong to Pepe was disconnected, and no one answered the door at noon on Tuesday (Jan. 12) at a south Beacon apartment where mail piled on the doorstep displayed his name.

According to the George Washington University Program on Extremism, which is tracking charges against people who entered the Capitol, as of Thursday (Jan. 14), 72 people had been charged, including 45 in federal court and 27 in D.C. court. The charges included unlawful entry, civil disorder, theft and assault.

William Pepe, in a photo provided to the FBI by Metro-North

Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said on Monday that prosecutors will likely pursue charges against hundreds of others.

Pepe is a laborer in the mechanical department at the Metro-North train yard in Brewster and was identified from the photo by colleagues, the FBI said.

“Effective immediately this individual has been suspended from Metro-North without pay and will be disciplined in accordance with their collective-bargaining agreement pending an investigation,” an MTA representative, Ken Lovett, said in a statement on Tuesday. “This alleged conduct is abhorrent and goes against the values of Metro-North, New York and the nation.”

The agency said Pepe had called in sick on the day of the riot.

The National Conference of Firemen and Oilers, the union that represents workers at the Metro-North train yard, said it “had no knowledge of this individual’s participation in the events of that day, and we are disappointed that anyone would engage in that type of conduct.”

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Arvind Dilawar is a freelance journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Gothamist and The New York Daily News.

3 replies on “Beacon Man Arrested by FBI”

  1. As horrifying as the events of Jan. 6 were, I can’t help feeling a bit sorry for this young fellow. If he helped organize the pathetic insurrection or engaged in looting and vandalism, he should face the music for those crimes. But if he was simply swept up in a moment, I would hope the mistakes he made don’t ruin his life.

    It is important that we not simply condemn Mr. Pepe but make an effort to help him and others like him to understand that what happened at the Capitol was wrong and that the motivation for it was terribly misguided. Joe Biden won the election, fair and square. Your country is not being stolen from you. Democracy means living with the consequences of losing an election.

    The burden of citizenship is to lose with grace and humility while working to win the next round. No single campaign or candidate is more important that allegiance to the system of laws that must govern a democratic system if it is to survive. Those who advocate breaking those laws are not patriots, and the result of their actions is not freedom.

    Democracy is not easy. It requires a long term commitment to the hard work of convincing a majority of the people about the direction the country should take. Mr. Pepe — I urge you to take a look at your actions, admit your mistakes, and rejoin society with a commitment to being a good citizen.

    1. As tempting as it is to be gracious and turn the other cheek, did you listen to the speakers at the rally before the armed insurrection that killed five people on Jan. 6, including President Trump? This crowd was deliberately whipped into a violent frenzy and directed to storm the capitol before they arrived that morning, and then the rally speakers gave them marching orders.

      When you are in a mob and someone starts fighting with law enforcement and breaking down barriers it’s time to take pause and think about the consequences. When the mob overruns law enforcement and breaks down windows and doors and kills a police officer, it’s time to take pause and think about the consequences. When the mob is armed and seeking out elected officials for persecution by illegally roaming through the halls of the Capitol, it’s time to take pause and think about the consequences.

      I have no sympathy or kindness for people who have been brainwashed to believe that at least half of this country are baby killers threatening to turn the U.S. into a socialist state in the style of so many South American countries we have broken by meddling in their politics. These followers have heard people refute their ideas and they don’t want to hear it. They have made their choices clear and they should face the full force of the justice system in response.

      Law enforcement has locked up hundreds of protestors during the Black Lives Matter movement this summer, and I did not flinch then either. Publicly fighting for what you believe in is a bold move with potentially fatal consequences, and this young fellow needs to learn that lesson too. And if he gets a felony on his record with jail time I will not shed a single tear for the insurrectionist who attempted a coup intended to overturn our democratic process. He should have run for office, not violently stormed the Capitol.

    2. Pepe unlawfully entered the Capitol, threatening not only the safety of our lawmakers but also the democracy we live under. He should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

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