A Texas man described as a video editor on the conspiracy theory website Infowars pleaded guilty Monday to breaking into the U.S. Capitol, where he filmed the scene of a police officer fatally shooting a California woman who joined a mob attack.
Samuel Christopher Montoya faces a maximum sentence of six months in prison after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of parading, demonstrating or picketing at the Capitol building. U.S. District Judge John Bates is scheduled to sentence Montoya on February 14, 2023.
Less than a week after the attack on January 6, 2021, the FBI received a tip from a relative of Motoya who claimed to have evidence that he was in the Capitol near the fatal shooting of Ashli Babbitt. Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran from San Diego, was shot and killed by a police officer as she climbed through a broken door leading to the House lobby.
Identifying himself as “Sam from Infowars.com,” Montoya recorded and narrated a 44-minute video showing him walking from the Capitol into the building, the FBI said.
Montoya, 37, described himself as a “reporter” or “journalist” in the video, but wore a red “Make America Great Again” hat and made statements celebrating the mob attack.
“We’re taking our house back! We’re taking the people’s house back!” he said, according to FBI agent statements.
Montoya was credited as the video editor on “Infowarsstore.com” when he appeared on the Infowars show hosted by Owen Shroyer two days after the riots, the statement said. The show aired footage of the disturbance taken by Motoy, who described to Shroyer what he saw and heard at the scene of Babbitt’s shooting.
The officer who shot Babbitt has been cleared of wrongdoing by both federal prosecutors and the Capitol Police.
Montoya was arrested in Austin, Texas in April 2021. Shroyer was also arrested on charges of rioting at the Capitol.
Shroyer claimed he was acting as a journalist on Jan. 6 and asked a judge to dismiss his riot charges. Prosecutors countered that the First Amendment did not protect Shroyer’s behavior at the Capitol that day.
Almost a year ago, the House Committee investigating the January 6 attacks issued subpoenas for documents and testimony from Infowars founder Alex Jones. Jones promoted former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud and called on his viewers to join him in Washington, DC, at a “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6. Jones was not accused of entering the Capitol with the mob.
In October, a Connecticut jury ordered Jones and his company, Free Speech System, to pay nearly $1 billion in damages to compensate the families of children and educators killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. The families said Jones broadcast lies about the school shooting that caused them to be bullied and threatened.