Nearly one year after he was arrested, Zachary Johnson, 34, of St. Petersburg, Florida, was sentenced to 42 months in prison and 36 months of supervised release after he pleaded guilty to assaulting law enforcement officers during the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Johnson was sentenced last week by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon. FBI agents arrested Johnson on Jan. 13, 2022, in Florida.
According to court documents and information presented from the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida, Johnson, a member of the Tampa-area Proud Boys, traveled from his home in Florida to Washington, D.C., to protest Congress’ certification of the Electoral College vote for Joe Biden. As instructed by the leadership of the Proud Boys, Johnson met a group of approximately 100 other members at the base of the Washington Monument at 10 a.m. Johnson wore a ballistic plate carrier and carried a mouthguard and goggles. Those around him were dressed similarly, including some who carried pepper spray on their vests.
Court documents say that Johnson spent two hours on the West Plaza, where rioters eventually overran officers. At approximately 3:15 p.m., Johnson advanced with four members of the Tampa Proud Boys chapter into the area known as the Lower West Terrace Tunnel, the site of some of the most violent attacks against police on January 6th. Inside the Tunnel, police officers formed a line behind a set of glass doors to stop rioters from entering the building. Soon thereafter, numerous rioters entered the Tunnel and attacked those police officers.
Johnson entered the Tunnel at approximately 3:15 p.m. and joined other rioters in a collective push against the established law enforcement lines, including, at times, rocking together in a coordinated “heave-ho” fashion. During this time, several rioters stole shields from the officers, which they passed back out of the Tunnel. At approximately 3:18 p.m. and 3:19 p.m., the line of officers pushed the rioters, including Johnson, out of the Tunnel. Johnson celebrated with others while on the steps of the Lower West Terrace.
Outside the Tunnel, Johnson once more joined a group of rioters who again collectively pushed against the officers – again at times rocking together in a coordinated fashion – in another effort to breach the police line and gain entry to the Capitol building. While outside the Tunnel, Johnson helped pass a sledgehammer and a large spray canister containing a lachrymatory agent up to other rioters closer to the entrance. As Johnson intended, those rioters then sprayed the officers with the agent, further assaulting the officers protecting the Capitol. Johnson remained outside of the Tunnel until at least approximately 4:10 p.m.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Tampa and Washington Field Offices. Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department.
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