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SC man enters guilty pleas on Capitol riot charges


Photo: Getty Images

WASHINGTON (WCSC) - A South Carolina man who prosecutors say was the first rioter to open U.S. Capitol Rotunda doors to let a mob into the building entered a guilty plea Thursday to two felony charges.

George Amos Tenney III, 35, of Anderson, South Carolina, pleaded guilty in the District of Columbia to civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding.

Court documents allege that in December 2020, Tenney made plans to travel to Washington on Jan. 6, and sent a Facebook message on Dec. 28, 2020, stating among other things, “It’s starting to look like we may siege the capital building and congress if the electoral votes don’t go right.”

On Jan. 6, Tenney illegally entered the Capitol Building, prosecutors allege.

He is accused of moving to the area inside the Rotunda Doors, arriving there at approximately 2:24 p.m. Rioters had amassed outside the doors and were struggling against the police officers attempting to secure the building.

Prosecutors say Tenney tried to open the Rotunda Doors to allow the rioters inside, had contact with multiple federal employees while doing so, and succeeded in opening one of the doors.

A police officer who was outside tried to push them closed, and Tenney resisted, pushing against the door to try to keep it open, court documents allege.

An employee of the House Sergeant at Arms then ran towards Tenney, pushing him aside in an effort to close the door, documents state.

George Amos Tenney III, 35, of Anderson, South Carolina, pleaded guilty in the District of Columbia to civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding.

Prosecutors say Tenney grabbed the employee by the shoulder, and that he and other rioters surrounded the employee, and a heated conversation began. A rioter from outside the doors forced his way inside and pushed the employee of the House Sergeant at Arms away, documents allege.

Tenney, meanwhile, continued to stand in the doorway, and locked arms with a Capitol Police officer who was just outside the doors, court documents allege.

As he and the officer moved inside, towards the Rotunda, Tenney allegedly pushed away the officer’s hand.

While in the Rotunda, court documents allege he yelled, “Stand up, Patriots, stand up!” and then returned to the Rotunda Doors, where he assisted rioters entering the building, patting them on the back and helping them move forward.

Prosecutors say that when another Capitol Police officer entered the area, Tenney pushed him to the side and ultimately had to be pulled back inside so that the Rotunda Doors could be closed to keep other rioters from entering.

Documents state he then retreated to the Rotunda and exited the Capitol through a window at approximately 2:32 p.m.

Tenney was arrested on June 29, 2021, in Anderson, South Carolina.

He is to be sentenced on Oct. 20, and faces a statutory maximum of five years in prison on the civil disorder charge and up to 20 years in prison on the obstruction charge.

The charges also carry potential financial penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Justice Department’s National Security Division are prosecuting the case, with valuable assistance provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina.

The FBI’s Columbia, South Carolina Field Office investigated the case, with valuable assistance from the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the U.S. Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department

In the 17 months since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 840 people have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including over 250 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. The investigation remains ongoing.

Copyright 2022 WCSC. All rights reserved.

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