• Fri. Apr 16th, 2021

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South Carolina man charged in Capitol riot bragged he dressed as antifa and fought police

A South Carolina man bragged in a group text chat that he disguised himself as an anti-fascist, or antifa, activist during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and succeeded in assaulting officers and stealing police gear, authorities said.

The man, William Robert Norwood III, relayed his plan in a text to four other people on Jan. 5, according to screenshots of the chat included in a criminal complaint and an arrest warrant filed Thursday.

“I’m dressing in all black,” Norwood wrote, according to the complaint. “I’ll look just like ANTIFA. I’ll get away with anything.”

William Robert Norwood III.FBI

A day after the riots, Norwood sent an update: “It worked… I got away with things that others were shot or arrested for.

“The cop shot a female Trump supporter. Then allowed ‘ANTIFA Trump supporters’ to assault him. I was one of them. I was there. I took his s—,” Norwood continued.

Attached to the text was a selfie of Norwood “wearing what appears to be a U.S. Capitol Police tactical vest underneath a zipped up camouflage jacket,” the FBI wrote in the complaint.

According to the screenshots, Norwood wrote to the group: “I got a nice helmet and body armor off a cop for God’s sake and I disarmed him. Tell me how that works.”

He claimed that once he changed out of antifa garb, he was targeted by officers.

“I fought 4 cops, they did nothing. When I put my red hat on, they pepper balled me,” Norwood wrote.

Immediately after the violence Jan. 6, baseless conspiracy theories circulated on social media and conservative media outlets that antifa had somehow been behind the riots.

There is no evidence that anti-fascist activists were involved in the riots, which led to the deaths of five people, FBI officials have said repeatedly.

Someone identified as T.D., who the FBI says is Norwood’s brother, reprimanded him.

“You admitted to going and being something you’re accusing other people of being. And then got mad and blamed others for the same thing you did. What the actual f— is wrong with you?” T.D. texted, according to the documents.

Norwood is alleged to have replied, “The one cop who deserved it, got it. The cops who acted s—– got exactly what they deserved. The ones who were cool, got help.”

A family member of T.D., identified by the FBI as J.D., tipped off agents, saying T.D. had told her that Norwood had done “‘terrible things’ inside the Capitol, including assaulting law enforcement officers,” the criminal complaint said. T.D. then shared the messages with federal agents, it said.

When agents interviewed Norwood, he said he and his wife had traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the Trump rally. He admitted entering the Capitol and its rotunda after he was separated from his wife, according to the FBI.

He claimed that “two U.S. Capitol Police Officers were waving people inside, and that one of the Capitol Police officers told him, ‘I’m on your side,'” the FBI said.

He said he wanted to leave but could not because of the large crowd. He said he protected officers against being assaulted and claimed that someone else took a police vest from a pile of equipment and put the vest on him, the FBI said. He admitted taking a helmet from the pile and putting it on his head.

“Norwood also denied assaulting law enforcement officers, and claimed that any statements he made in text messages were meant to make Norwood sound tough,” the criminal complaint said. “Norwood repeatedly claimed that he only attempted to help law enforcement, not hurt them.”

Norwood provided the FBI with a photo of himself wearing a camouflage jacket standing near the Washington Monument on Jan. 6. A man who was wearing the same clothes and appears to be Norwood was recorded on surveillance video in the rotunda, the FBI said.

Norwood faces charges of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, obstruction of justice and Congress, theft of government property and other counts. Efforts to reach him by phone were unsuccessful Tuesday.