WASHINGTON — The retired Air Force officer who stormed the US Capitol in combat gear and carried zippered handcuffs into the Senate Gallery was sentenced Friday to two years in prison.
Larry Brock, 55, of Grapevine, Texas, joined other rioters on the Senate floor just minutes after then-Vice President Mike Pence, senators, and their staff evacuated the hall to escape a mob that attacked the building on January 6, 2021 of the year.
U.S. District Judge John Bates also sentenced Brock to two years of parole following his prison sentence and ordered him to perform 100 hours of community service. Brock, who refused to speak in court before the judge handed down his sentence, remains at large until he reports to prison on a date to be determined.
Prosecutors recommended a sentence of five years in prison, followed by a supervised release of three years.
Bates convicted Brock in November after a trial without a jury. Brock waived his right to a jury trial.
The judge said that before the January 6 riot, Brock expressed “very disturbing” and violent rhetoric. The judge read aloud several of Brock’s social media posts, calling it “really amazing” that the words were spoken by a former high-ranking military officer.
“This is scary stuff, and it really captures the goal of stopping election certification,” Bates said.
Brock believed baseless conspiracy theories that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Republican incumbent Donald Trump, prosecutors said.
“When we get to the bottom of this conspiracy, we will need to execute the traitors who are trying to steal the election results, including media and social media leaders who help the conspirators and incite them to coup,” Brock wrote in the Nov. 9 newspaper. 2020, Facebook post.
In a Facebook message to another user on Christmas Eve, Brock laid out what he called “a contingency plan in case Congress is inactive” on January 6. One of the “primary objectives” of his plan was to “capture all Democratic politicians and key Biden personnel and elected Republicans.”
“Start interrogations using the measures we used against al-Qaeda to obtain evidence of a coup,” he wrote.
Brock served on combat missions in Afghanistan before retiring from the Air Force with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
His “plan of action” also called for a “general pardon for all crimes, including the murder of those who restored the Constitution and suppressed the democratic uprising.”
“Don’t kill LEO unnecessarily,” he wrote, apparently referring to law enforcement officers.
Brock did not resort to violence on January 6, but prosecutors said his behavior was “alarmingly premeditated.”
“If the Senate Gallery had not been empty minutes earlier, Brock could have come face to face with the politicians he dreamed of capturing and interrogating,” they wrote in a court document.
Bates convicted Brock of all six counts of his indictment, including obstruction of a formal hearing, a joint session of Congress on January 6 to confirm President Joe Biden’s election victory. The charge of obstruction is a felony; the other five items are misdemeanors.
Defense attorney Charles Burnham said it was “incredible that (Brock) would be motivated by anything other than a genuine concern for democracy.”
“If Mr. Brock was sincerely guided by lofty ideals, this significantly reduces his guilt, even if the court privately disagrees with his point of view,” Burnham wrote in the lawsuit.
Brock attended the “Stop theft” rally at which Trump spoke to a crowd of supporters on January 6. He was wearing a helmet and tactical vest when he joined the mob that attacked the Capitol. He entered the building through the doors of the Senate wing about 12 minutes after the other rioters had originally forced them.
On the floor near the stairs of the East Rotunda, Brock picked up a pair of discarded zippered handcuffs. He held “flexible handcuffs” in his right hand in the Senate gallery. In the Senate room, he looked through the papers on the desks of the senators.
“This was in line with Brock’s stated overall mission on Jan. 6, which was to gather intelligence to stop certification and transfer of power,” prosecutors wrote.
Brock graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1989. He was on active duty until 1998 and served in the reserves until 2014.
In a letter to the judge, a retired Air Force major general praised Brock’s military service. The major general, whose name has been removed from public court documents, said Brock risked his life to protect US forces from a Taliban attack by flying under mountain peaks into a valley “saturated with enemy forces.”
“The result prevented an enemy advance on American personnel, saved American lives, and defused an ever-escalating situation for forces at this remote base in Afghanistan,” the major general wrote.
On January 6, Brock was working as a commercial airline pilot. His attorney said the FAA revoked Brock’s licenses following his arrest in January 2021.
Approximately 1,000 people were charged with federal crimes related to the January 6 riots. More than 400 of them were convicted, and more than half received terms of imprisonment from seven days to 10 years.
At least 70 convicted rioters served in the military, according to an Associated Press review of court records.
Also on Friday, a rioter who enlisted in the Air Force after attacking police at the Capitol was sentenced to three years and four months in prison by U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton. Aiden Billiards was 18 years old when he sprayed a chemical irritant on police officers and then smashed the window of the Capitol with a baseball bat.
A billiards player was undergoing basic training at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas when he was questioned by the FBI months after the riot. He later separated from the Air Force and returned home to Cary, North Carolina. Billiards, now 20, pleaded guilty to assault last year.