Christopher Alberts at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.Emily Molli via U.S. Attorney's Office for D.C.

On Monday, a defendant in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot trial, Christopher Alberts of Maryland, admitted on the stand that he was armed with a gun when he charged toward a police line during the events of that day. Alberts, who was arrested near the Capitol on the night of Jan. 6 and faces multiple charges including felony civil disorder and assaulting officers, claimed that “instinct took over” when he used a wooden pallet as a makeshift battering ram to build a wall between police and the mob while wearing a gas mask and a tactical vest with protective plates.

Alberts testified that he regularly wore a tactical vest and carried his sidearm while working as a tow truck driver, as it helped him absorb the blows from less-lethal munitions used by the police. He also stated that he believed he had a duty to protect another rioter, Guy Reffitt, who had charged up the stairs of the Capitol and waved other rioters forward, despite not knowing Reffitt and having no evidence that Reffitt was also armed with a gun. Reffitt was sentenced to over seven years in federal prison in August 2022.

Alberts, like millions of Donald Trump supporters, claimed that he believed the false claims made by the then-president about the fraudulent nature of the 2020 election, stating that there were questions that needed to be answered. The trial is ongoing, with the government expected to cross-examine Alberts later in the day, and closing arguments expected early in the week.

The admission of being armed with a gun adds to the mounting evidence of the violent and dangerous nature of the Capitol riot, which resulted in widespread condemnation and legal repercussions for those involved. The trial serves as a significant moment in holding individuals accountable for their actions on Jan. 6 and determining the consequences of their participation in the attack on the Capitol, a symbol of American democracy. As the trial continues, the outcome will be closely watched for its implications on the handling of similar incidents in the future and the preservation of the rule of law.

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