New Jersey man who witnessed Capitol shooting of Ashli Babbitt arrested

New Jersey man who witnessed Capitol shooting of Ashli Babbitt arrested

A New Jersey man and former Peace Corps member who said he was standing next to the woman fatally shot during last week’s storming of the U.S. Capitol has been charged in connection with the siege, according to officials.

Thomas Baranyi was arrested by the FBI late Tuesday and charged with disorderly or disruptive conduct. The 28-year-old made his initial court appearance later that night via video conference, where his bail was set at $ 100,000, but he was later released on an unsecured bond.

Baranyi gained attention on the day of the riots when he told a TV reporter that he was standing next to Ashli Babbitt when she was fatally shot inside the building, and held up his right hand to show blood that was still there.

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In a criminal affidavit, FBI Special Agent Cassidy Vreeland wrote that Baranyi’s identity and actions inside the Capitol were confirmed through the interview he gave to Ariane Datil, a reporter for WUSA9, and through online videos and photos. One video showed Baranyi standing next to Babbitt as she was shot, according to the affidavit and reports.

“I don’t know if she’s alive or dead anymore,” Baranyi told the reporter, according to the affidavit. He later added: “It could have been me, but she went in first.”

Thomas Baranyi in his interview with WUSA-9, Jan. 6, 2021. 

Thomas Baranyi in his interview with WUSA-9, Jan. 6, 2021.  (WUSA-9 via U.S. District Court of Washington, D.C.)

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Babbitt was killed when she was allegedly shot by a U.S. Capitol Police officer. Her husband later told KUSI-TV that she was a “strong supporter of President Trump, and was a great patriot to all who knew her.” 

She was a San Diego, Calif. resident and Air Force veteran who served for 14 years.

The Capitol Police officer who shot Babbitt was subsequently placed on administrative leave. Babbitt’s death is now the subject of a federal investigation.

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Four other people died during or in connection with the events of Jan. 6, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick.

Baranyi was represented at his initial court hearing on Tuesday by a federal public defender, but told the judge he has retained a private attorney, whose name was not disclosed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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