WASHINGTON — A man from Alabama was found guilty today in the District of Columbia of felony charges related to his actions during the January 6, 2021 burglary of the US Capitol. His actions and the actions of others disrupted a joint session of the US Congress called to determine and count electoral votes related to the presidential election.
William Watson, 25, of Auburn, Alabama, was found guilty of obstructing an official process and entering and staying in a restricted building or premises with a dangerous weapon. Judge Reggie B. Walton delivered the verdict after a court hearing in which Watson and the government agreed on a set set of facts regarding his conduct.
According to established facts, as of January 6, 2021, Watson was among a mob of rioters illegally on Capitol grounds. He had a pocketknife on his waistband, which he used to tear fabric around the dedication scaffold so the crowd could climb the steps to the Capitol. Shortly after 2 p.m., the police chain was overrun by rioters. Watson, along with others, stormed up the steps of the Capitol and across the Upper West Terrace to the doors of the Senate wing. He was among the first rioters to enter the building at around 2:13 p.m
Entering through the Senate double door area, Watson finished smashing a partially broken window pane and vaulted through the frame into the building’s interior. By then he also had a canister of chemical spray that he found. Watson eventually arrived in the Ohio Clock Corridor near the Senate chambers, where a group of rioters encountered several officers. Officers eventually escorted Watson and others from the building. He later created a Snapchat story with a photo of himself and others in the Ohio Clock Corridor. Among other things, the caption said: “The fake news will not win against the thousands of Patriots being taped today.”
Watson was arrested in Alabama on May 4, 2021. He is scheduled to be sentenced on March 9, 2023. He faces a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison for obstruction, and a maximum statutory sentence of 10 years in prison for entering and remaining in a restricted building or premises with a dangerous dangerous weapon. The charges also carry potential fines. A federal district court judge will determine the sentence after considering US sentencing guidelines and other legal factors.
This case is being prosecuted by the US Attorney for the District of Columbia and the Department of Justice’s Counterterrorism Division of the National Security Division. Valuable assistance was provided by the US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Mobile Field Office and its Auburn Resident Agency, as well as the FBI’s Washington Field Office, which Watson identified as #22 in his information-seeking photos. Valuable assistance was provided by the Metropolitan Police Department and the US Capitol Police.
In the 22 months since Jan. 6, 2021, nearly 900 people have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the US Capitol break-in, including over 275 people charged with assault or obstruction of law enforcement. The investigations are ongoing.
Anyone with tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or visit tips.fbi.gov.