A West Virginian charged in the mob at the U.S. Capitol was released on $10,000 bond today with conditions that include obeying the law.
A criminal complaint filed Saturday named Gracyn Courtright, a Hurricane High School graduate. An accompanying affidavit describes Courtright entering the U.S. Capitol and wandering around with a Senate “Members Only” sign until an officer took it away from her. Her image was captured by her own social media and surveillance video.
Courtright appeared in a preliminary hearing today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dwane Tinsley.
Tinsley laid out release conditions that limit Courtright’s travel to southern West Virginia or the District of Columbia, where she is actually charged. Her lawyer worked out some flexibility for Courtright to travel to Lexington, Ky., where she is finishing her senior year at the University of Kentucky, mostly taking classes online.
Courtright expects to graduate college in May.
She faces charges of knowingly entering a restricted building without lawful authority, knowingly engaging in disorderly conduct in a restricted building, disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and theft of government property valued less than $1,000.
“If you were to be convicted of either of these offenses, you would be exposed to years in prison. Do you understand that?” Tinsley asked Courtright.
“Yes, your honor,” she responded.
Courtright today waived an identity hearing, where she could have disputed that she’s the person being accused. And she also waived a pre-trial hearing.
Courtright is among about a hundred cases related to this month’s riot at the U.S. Capitol. There are more than 275 open investigations into potential criminal activity on that day, acting US Attorney Michael Sherwin said on Friday.
Many of them have been identified through their own social media posts, the videos of others, through surveillance footage or by a combination.
Wayne County resident Derrick Evans, who had just been elected to West Virginia’s House of Delegates, was also among the early arrests. Evans faces two federal misdemeanors for entering the Capitol as he livestreamed. He has resigned from the Legislature.
The mob storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 disrupted the constitutional duty of counting Electoral College votes and prompted the evacuations of representatives, senators and Vice President Mike Pence. One woman was fatally shot while trying to climb into the chambers, three others died from “medical emergencies” and 50 police officers were injured. Capitol Police announced one police officer died of injuries sustained during the riot.
The affidavit notes that a photo published in The Washington Post appeared to show Courtright among a crowd that initially clashed with police in the halls of the Capitol.
The investigator reached that conclusion by comparing Courtright’s attire in the other images with a similarly-clad person in the photo. The investigator also compared video that Courtright posted with the timing the photo was captured.
Courtright, now a senior mathematical economics major at the University of Kentucky, described her presence at the Capitol on social media posts that have now been deleted. Screenshots were preserved and were described in the affidavit.
One now-deleted video includes the caption, “PEACEFULLY CHANTING!!!!!!! Nobody fighting or destroying anything some of my cnn & Fox News watchers need to think for themselves.”
A photo posted outside in Washington, D.C., shows her holding up an American flag and is captioned “can’t wait to tell my grandkids I was here.”
In a direct message conversation with an acquaintance that was provided to investigators, Courtright is asked if she was at the Capitol. Courtright responded, “Yes, it wasn’t violent like the news said” and “I took pictures all in the building.” She added, “I never saw the violence.”
In the private messaging, Courtright went on to say, “I walked into the chamber like the Senate where the desk are.” She wrote, “it’s history” and “I thought it was cool.”
The acquaintance pushed back that the Capitol activities amounted to treason. Courtright responded, “idk what treason is” — short for I don’t know.
Security footage from Jan. 6 shows Courtright entering the Capitol building through a door near the West Senate stairs about 2:42 p.m. About 20 minutes later, a camera caught her image walking up the steps near the Senate chamber and carrying the “Members Only” sign. She was not seen entering the Senate Chamber.
A few minutes later, at 3:05, she was seen on the second floor. At that point, a law enforcement officer took the “Members Only” sign away from her. Courtright left the building through the north door.