A Northwest Arkansas man arrested Wednesday in connection with the U.S. Capitol riot was identified by his ears.
"Hughes' distinct notches at the top of his ears match those of the person who engaged in violence in the Lower West Tunnel on January 6, 2021," according to a Statement of Facts from the FBI.
Nathan Earl Hughes, 34, was arrested in Fayetteville on four charges, including a felony count of interfering with police during a civil disorder. Hughes was released from the Washington County jail on Thursday on $5,000 bond.
A news release from the U.S. Department of Justice indicated Hughes lives in Fayetteville, but the online jail roster listed his residence as Bentonville.
Hughes is accused of joining a mob in the Lower West Terrace tunnel -- where some of the most violent fighting took place -- to push against a police line. He's also accused of trying to wrest a riot shield away from an officer.
Besides the felony, Hughes faces three misdemeanor charges: entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, and impeding passage through the Capitol grounds or buildings.
Hughes was charged Aug. 18 in a criminal complaint filed in federal court in the District of Columbia. But the case was sealed until his arrest on Wednesday.
Hughes made his initial appearance Thursday via teleconference in federal court in Fayetteville.
His next court appearance, via Zoom, is scheduled for Sept. 14 with Magistrate Judge Robin M. Meriweather in federal court in the District of Columbia.
According to court documents, Hughes helped other rioters physically fight police in an attempt to breach the line and enter the Capitol building.
The Lower West Terrace "tunnel" was a stairway that had been converted into a narrow entryway due to construction of a temporary platform for Joe Biden's inaugural. At the end of the tunnel were two sets of glass double doors, emblazoned with the sign "Members Entrance Only," which "opened directly into the heart of the U.S. Capitol building," according to filings in other Jan. 6 cases.
At 2:42 p.m. Eastern time on Jan. 6, 2021, "riots broke through the glass doors and directly engaged with the police officers in the tunnel in an effort to gain further passage into the Capitol," according to the Statement of Facts in Hughes' case. "For more than two hours in the tunnel, rioters engaged in synchronized pushing and shoving against police officers, such that the officers had to withstand the force of the group pushing against them, while also enduring individual assaults."
Hughes was identified as one of the rioters fighting police in the tunnel, according to the court filing.
At approximately 3:15 p.m., Hughes was at the mouth of the tunnel and signaled the crowd of rioters, 'C'mon! C'mon!' while waving his hand in the direction of the tunnel, according to the Statement of Facts.
"Immediately after signaling the crowd into the tunnel, Hughes charged inside and towards the line of police who were blocking the rioters' passage through the tunnel and into the Capitol," according to the court filing.
Inside the tunnel, Hughes continued to signal others to enter and confront the police line, according to the Statement of Facts. Hughes then stood shoulder-to-shoulder with others and began to rock back and forth in a synchronized movement with the crowd.
At about 3:18 p.m., rioters forcefully removing riot shields from some police officers and the crowd, including Hughes, began passing them back out of the tunnel, according to the Statement of Facts.
Hughes personally grabbed an officer's shield and tried to pull it away, according to the filing.
"At 3:19 p.m., as he was about to be pushed out of the mouth of the tunnel by the advancing officers, Hughes used his elbow to strike in the direction of the officer holding the shield," according to the Statement of Facts.
After he was pushed out of the tunnel, Hughes remained in the vicinity for at least 90 minutes.
At 3:55 p.m., he began yelling for other rioters to "Pull them out!" referring to police, according to the Statement of Facts.
Besides his ears, Hughes was identified by tipsters who notified the FBI. There was video of Hughes at the Lower West Terrace tunnel, according to court filings.
Another Arkansan, Peter Francis Stager of Conway, also participated in the attack at the Lower West Terrace tunnel. Stager used a flagpole, with an American flag attached, to beat a police officer who was face down on the Capitol steps. Stager pleaded guilty to one count of assaulting an officer with a dangerous weapon.
Stager was sentenced last month to 52 months in prison. But with time served and good conduct, he could be released as early as Sept. 24, 2024.