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Monday, June 5, 2023

Longest Capitol Riot Sentence Yet for Man Who Had a History of Attacking Police Officers and Women

Schwartz boasted about how he had thrown the “first” chair at officers and gleefully described how he had stolen police munitions to use against them.

Peter Schwartz, 49, has been sentenced to more than 14 years in prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot. 

Court documents described Schwartz as “one of the most violent and aggressive participants in the January 6, 2021 attack on the United States Capitol, and someone who has a long history of assaulting police officers and women”.

On Jan. 6, armed with a wooden tire knocker, Schwartz and his then-wife, Shelly Stallings, made their way to the thick of the violence and aggressively participated in the effort to overwhelm the police line on the Lower West Terrace. They had first attended the “Stop the Steal” rally at the Ellipse.

Court documents describe how Schwartz threw the “first” chair at the line of officers, creating an opening in the police line in the northwest corner of the terrace that enabled hundreds of rioters to flood the Lower West Terrace as overwhelmed officers were forced to retreat. He then stole chemical munitions, including pepper spray, that had been left behind by the fleeing officers and used that pepper spray as a weapon to attack those same officers as they desperately tried to escape the growing and increasingly violent mob. In three different text messages to three different people, 

He later made his way up to the inaugural stage and entered the tunnel, where a line of officers spent hours defending the tunnel entrance from a mob determined to force their way into the Capitol building. While inside, Schwartz worked with two others to again spray the line of officers inside with pepper spray. 

Schwartz boasted about how he had thrown the “first” chair at officers and gleefully described how he had stolen police munitions to use against them. On January 6, 2021, he texted: “We are on our way back from DC…I started that. I [sic] the first chair at the cops…stole their shit and used it on them!” The same day he texted a different person saying: “We winning! I started a riot…” “I the[] the first chair at the cops…and stole their mace from them and used it against them. A day later, on January 7, 2021, he bragged to a third person, “It was! I threw the first chair at the cops after they maced us. Then we all charged them. I got two duffel bags they left behind full of mace and tear gas, and I kept some and passed the rest out, and we got them! They ended up taking hostages!”

By Schwartz’s own admission, he viewed himself as being at “war” that day, stating in a Facebook post on January 7, 2021, “What happened yesterday was the opening of a war. I was there and whether people will acknowledge it or not we are now at war.”

Schwartz committed the crimes while on probation in at least one other case involving both assaultive conduct and illegal firearms possession. Schwartz has a criminal history of 38 prior convictions going back to 1991, several of which involved assaulting or threatening officers or other authority figures.

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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