Insurrection arrest: Colorado man arrested for Jan. 6 actions


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Matthew James Melsen, 34, faces 10 felony charges and several misdemeanors for his actions on Jan. 6, 2021.

WASHINGTON D.C., DC — A Wheat Ridge man claimed he saw things happening “from a distance” at the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection, but photos obtained by federal investigators show him shoving a police officer – and climbing onto the inaugural stage.

Matthew James Melsen, 34, was arrested Wednesday in Wheat Ridge. He is charged in a criminal complaint with 10 felony offenses that include civil disorder and assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers.

He also faces misdemeanor charges including entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds, impeding passage through the Capitol grounds or buildings, and act of physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings.

On Jan. 6, 2021, a large crowd of protesters disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress where lawmakers had convened to count the electoral votes and certify Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election.

A month after the event, a tipper contacted the FBI and said they had an “acquaintance” named “Matthew” and reported that they had seen a video on social media appearing to depict him at the U.S. Capitol. That person provided a phone number, and investigators connected it to Melsen.

The FBI interviewed him in April 2021, and at that time, he told them he had traveled to Washington, D.C., to watch President Donald Trump’s speech and to protest. He said he met someone at the airport on the way to D.C. and the two of them attended the speech and march together.

According to the criminal complaint, Melson said he was “far away” from the Capitol building but saw things were happening “from a distance.” Based on what he saw, he said he decided to leave to protest and claimed he left around 4 p.m. without going near or inside the Capitol building.

According to court documents, around 2:15 p.m. that day, police body-worn camera footage captured a man, later identified as Melsen, as he arrived at the bike rack barricades separating a crowd of rioters from the U.S. Capitol building on the West Plaza of the Capitol grounds. Melsen wore a white T-shirt over a red long-sleeve T-shirt, a navy coat, jeans and a black baseball hat with white lettering that read “Keep America Great.”

Seconds later, Melsen reached over the bike rack barricades and pushed a Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer, the documents say. The officer responded by pushing Melsen away from the barricades and into the crowd. Melsen charged at the officer with both hands outstretched and pushed the officer in the chest. Melsen was again pushed back toward the crowd and was sprayed with pepper spray.

Later, he was seen in an open-source video as he climbed onto the inaugural stage scaffolding on the West Plaza of the Capitol grounds, the federal complaint says. Around 4 p.m., Melsen made his way onto the inaugural stage and through the dense crowd of rioters and approached the archway at the mouth of the Lower West Terrace Tunnel.

Inside the tunnel, an MPD officer climbed up on a ledge and attempted to stop a rioter from climbing into the tunnel and on top of officers by prodding the rioter with a long stick. The rioter grabbed the stick and tried to pull it away from the officer. Melsen also grabbed the stick and held onto it with the other rioters until the stick broke.

The rioter then used the broken part of the stick to forcefully strike the officers’ shields several times while yelling, “Let us in!” A few seconds later, another officer attempted to use his baton to stop the rioter from attacking the police. Once again, Melsen tried to grab the officer’s baton to prevent him from using it.

More than 1,313 individuals have been charged in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including more than 469 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement, a felony.

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Insurrection arrest: Colorado man arrested for Jan. 6 actions

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