NJ man who was next to Ashli Babbitt during Capitol riots busted by feds

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A 28-year-old New Jersey man who was next to Ashli Babbitt when she was shot by police during the siege of the US Capitol building has been arrested, authorities said Wednesday.

Thomas Baranyi, a Peace Corps member who appeared in a widely circulated clip showing his bloody hand, was busted Tuesday by FBI agents on charges of disorderly conduct and being in a restricted building, according to court documents.

Baranyi appeared in court later that day and did not dispute that he appeared in the interview, officials said. He was released on $100,000 unsecured bond and barred from entering any government buildings.

In an interview with WUSA 9 outside the Capitol building and referenced in court papers, Baranyi gave his name and home state as he recounted the shooting of Babbitt.

“[W]e had stormed into the chambers inside and there was a young lady who rushed through the windows. A number of police and Secret Service were saying, ‘Get down, get out of the way,’” he recalled, according to the affidavit. “She didn’t heed the call and as we kind of raced up to try to grab people and pull them back, they shot her in the neck, and she fell back on me.”

He added, “[I]t could have been me, but she went in first. It was one of us.”

Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force vet from California, was fatally shot during riots as she tried to climb through a smashed window in a panel beside a barricaded door in the Capitol building.

The FBI agent cited much of the interview in the affidavit and confirmed his identity with his driver’s license photo, court docs show.

The New Jersey man went on to explain “he entered the building on the side ‘with the scaffolding,’” the court docs say.

“[W]e tore through the scaffolding, through flash bangs and tear gas, and blitzed our way through all the chambers just trying to get into Congress or whoever we could get in to and tell them that we need some kind of investigation into this,” he said in the interview.

“It was a joke to them until we got inside and then guns came out, but we’re at a point now, it can’t be allowed to stand. We have to do something. People have to do something,” Baranyi added, according to records.

Baranyi was arrested in Ewing, New Jersey, but his hometown wasn’t clear.

He could not be immediately reached for comment.

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