The owner of a Long Island funeral home was charged on Wednesday with spraying an insecticide at police officers guarding the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
The man, Peter G. Moloney, 58, was arrested in the Justice Department’s sprawling investigation of the mob attack. He was also accused of attacking members of the news media outside the Capitol, according to charging documents unsealed in Federal District Court in Washington.
Prosecutors say that Mr. Moloney, of Bayport, N.Y., showed up at the Capitol in a bicycle helmet and protective eyewear, carrying a canister of Black Flag Wasp, Hornet and Yellow Jacket Killer. After he approached a line of officers arrayed behind metal barricades on the west side of the building, prosecutors said, he sprayed several of them with the insecticide.
Mr. Moloney was released from custody on a $100,000 bond at his initial appearance at Federal District Court in Islip, N.Y. Outside the courthouse, his lawyer, Edward Heilig, said Mr. Moloney’s next court appearance was on June 20.
“He’s presumed to be innocent at this time,” Mr. Heilig said.
Mr. Moloney was also charged with taking part in an assault on an Associated Press photographer, John Minchillo, whom several rioters accused of being a member of the leftist movement antifa. Prosecutors say that Mr. Moloney grabbed Mr. Minchillo’s camera, causing him to stumble down some stairs outside the Capitol, then joined others in punching and shoving him until eventually the photographer was pushed over a wall.
In a separate attack, prosecutors say, Mr. Moloney yanked the camera of another photographer and caused him to stumble down the stairs as well.
Several other rioters have been charged with attacking Mr. Minchillo, including a Pennsylvania man, Alan W. Byerly, who was sentenced in October to 34 months in prison.
Another man who has admitted to joining in the assault, Rodney K. Milstreed, is set to be sentenced next month. In a Facebook post a few days after the assault, Mr. Milstreed said that attacking Mr. Michillo was “worth it,” adding that he had “hit him with everything god give.”
The charges filed against Mr. Moloney were a reminder that even two and a half years after a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol, federal authorities are continuing to make arrests.
As of Tuesday, the Justice Department said more than 1,040 people had been charged in connection with the riot. Prosecutors have told several judges in Washington that there could be as many as another 1,000 people who eventually face charges, according to people familiar with the matter.
About a dozen people have been charged, like Mr. Moloney, with attacking members of the news media or destroying their equipment on Jan. 6. Another 350 defendants have been charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding officers at the Capitol, including more than 100 who used a deadly or dangerous weapon, according to the Justice Department.
Department officials say that about 140 officers were attacked on Jan. 6, among them 80 from the Capitol Police and 60 from the Metropolitan Police Department.
Mr. Moloney’s case appears to be the first in which someone was accused of using insecticide as a weapon against the police. In other cases, defendants have been charged with attacking officers with bats, sticks, batons, flag poles, fire crackers, fire extinguishers, various types of chemical sprays, a hockey stick and even a skateboard.
Chelsia Rose Marcius and Nate Schweber contributed reporting.