Bentonville man charged with assaulting federal officer during Capitol riot

NWA man accused of assaulting federal officer at Capitol

Submitted photo of Nathan Hughes from Washington County Sheriff.

The Bentonville man arrested Aug. 30 in connection with the U.S. Capitol riot now faces a fifth pending count -- assaulting a federal officer.

Nathan Earl Hughes, 34, of Bentonville, was arrested Aug. 30 in Fayetteville and was released from the Washington County jail on $5,000 bond.

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.

Hughes was initially charged Aug. 18 in a criminal complaint with a felony count of interfering with police during a civil disorder, and 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.

A grand jury sworn March 16 returned a superseding indictment that was filed last week in federal court in the District of Columbia. It added a fifth count against Hughes under U.S. Code 18:111(a)(1).

On Jan. 6, 2021, "Nathan Earl Hughes did forcibly assault, resist, impose, impede, intimidate and interfere with an officer and employee of the United States" while that person was engaged in the performance of their official duties, according to the indictment, referring to the new charge.

While the charge could be referring to a U.S. Capitol Police officer, it could also refer to a Metropolitan Police Department officer because they were assisting the Capitol Police.

"The acts in violation of this section involve physical contact with the victim and the intent to commit another felony," according to the indictment.

According to a statement of facts from the FBI, starting at about 1 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2021, a crowd began amassing on the west front of the Capitol. For about an hour, officers with the U.S. Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police Department attempted to prevent the crowd from advancing beyond the police barricade line at the west plaza, but the crowd overwhelmed the police line and the officers retreated to the Lower West Terrace tunnel.

"At approximately 3:18 p.m., rioters at the front of the mob began forcefully removing the police riot shields that the officers had been using to shield themselves from the mob's onslaught," according to the statement of facts. "Hughes participated in this conduct by grabbing the shields from the rioters at the front of the mob and passing the shields back out of the tunnel and by personally grabbing an officer's shield and attempting to pull it away."

A minute later, as officers pushed Hughes out of the tunnel, "Hughes used his elbow to strike in the direction of the officer holding the shield," according to the statement of facts.

Four other men were also charged in the same superseding indictment as Hughes. But the other four were initially indicted by the grand jury on July 19.

The other four include Jay James Johnston of Los Angeles, an actor who voiced the character Jimmy Pesto Sr. on the animated Fox show "Bob's Burgers"; Alan Michael St. Onge of Brevard, N.C.; Kyle Kumer of Kansas City, Mo.; and William Stover of of Elizabethtown, Ken.

Hughes is the only one of the five defendants facing a charge of assaulting a federal officer under U.S. Code 18:111(a)(1). Otherwise, all five men face a felony count of civil disorder and the three misdemeanor charges.

Hughes' first appearance in D.C. federal court is scheduled for today via teleconference. He has yet to enter a plea in the case.