AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) — Federal charges are advancing against an Auburn man for his alleged involvement in the deadly riot and insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Court documents obtained by CBS 42’s sister station News 3 indicate 23-year-old William Watson is facing one count of civil disorder, one count of entering a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon, and violent entry or disorderly conduct.
As of Wednesday afternoon, Watson remained behind bars at the Lee County Detention Facility. It is not clear when Watson will be taken into federal custody. According to court documents, what is clear is Watson went to Washington D.C. to support Donald Trump, believing President Joe Biden’s lawful election was fraudulent. Five people were killed, including a Capitol Police officer, when pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers worked to certify President Joe Biden’s victory.
News 3 obtained a copy of the Criminal Complaint filed against Watson on January 17 in United States District Court for the District of Columbia along with the 16-page “Affidavit in Support of the Criminal Complaint and Arrest Warrant.”
Read the documents in their entirety by clicking here: United States of America v. William Wright Watson
The affidavit alleges Watson described to FBI agents traveling overnight with a friend from Auburn, Alabama to Washington D.C., and Watson told investigators he was following “the schedule Alex Jones had promoted.” The FBI notes Alex Jones is a radio host who operates the website InfoWars. The FBI says Jones is known for promoting conspiracy theories and disinformation while promoting protesting outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
The document includes Watson’s statements to the FBI detailing his actions during the riot when Watson admitted to entering the Capitol through a smashed window. The legal document contains pictures of Watson inside the U.S. Capitol wearing a yellow sweatshirt. Watson’s bearded face is now known to many across the country as the man standing next to a shirtless man wearing a horned hat named Jake Angeli, known as “QAnon Shaman,” as the crowd was confronted by U.S. Capitol Police outside the Senate Chamber. The document also includes a video link and still images showing Watson outside on Capitol grounds holding a can of mace pointed in law enforcement’s direction.
The affidavit also shows a picture of Watson’s yellow sweatshirt FBI agents located near the washer and dryer inside Watson’s Auburn home when he was taken into custody on January 11. News 3 captured exclusive video of Watson’s being led from the house on Samantha Court in handcuffs after his $103,000 bond for marijuana and LSD trafficking charges was revoked. These charges stemmed from his July 2 arrest in Auburn. The Lee County District Attorney’s Office asked a county judge to revoke Watson’s bond for traveling out of state after learning Watson was wanted by the U.S. Secret Service and FBI for his alleged role in the mob.
On January 11, FBI agents met with Watson, who waived his Miranda rights and described his actions the day the U.S. Capitol was overrun by the mob. During the interview, Watson stated he went to Washington, D.C., to “support the patriots, support Trump, support freedom. I guess the overriding thing for why we were there that day is because they were certifying the fraudulent election that day, and so we, to protest that.”
The FBI says Watson has denied doing anything violent and said he was trying to help calm the crowd once he entered the building. Watson stated after arriving in Washington, D.C., early in the day, he was by the Ellipse, the area south of the White House, and at some point, he saw others walking toward the U.S. Capitol and followed. What happened next is detailed by the FBI agent in the affidavit:
“WATSON worked his way to the front of the crowd at the stage which had been set up on the west side of the U.S. Capitol Building for the Presidential Inauguration. WATSON also stated that he had been following the schedule Alex Jones had promoted, which, according to Watson, directed others to meet at the Ellipse at 9:00 a.m. and then the U.S. Capitol at 1:00 p.m. to protest while Congress was certifying the Electoral College votes. WATSON stated he did not bring anything to the event except a bottle of water. He further stated that he brought a taser with him, but left it in the car. WATSON stated that, at the law enforcement barriers at the U.S. Capitol, the crowd started chanting, among other things, that the law enforcement officers’ “oaths were to protect us, not them.” WATSON further explained, “I mean, it is to protect all of us, but not if they’re committing treason.” WATSON claimed that at one point, law enforcement officers began spraying tear gas and mace into the crowd. WATSON stated someone “on our side, just yelled, ‘Charge,’ and everybody starts going up to the left under the Inauguration bleachers . . . and it’s like 100 people there getting stopped, and they’re all, and I assumed at the top was ’cause of riot shields holding people back, but we just started all pushing and pushing and pushing and eventually got through that one area and then they kind of made another little line and then we pushed on that line and then they gave up and after that one, they gave up, completely, and moved the rest of the barricades climbing up the steps toward the building and then ushered us, like made hand motions for us to go in.” WATSON stated he then approached the U.S. Capitol building and began banging on windows, “trying to get people to hear me.” After someone else in the crowd busted windows and the doors nearby, WATSON went into the U.S. Capitol building through a broken window. At some point after entry, WATSON stated that he arrived in a hallway with several other individuals from the crowd and encountered several law enforcement officers. WATSON stated that some of the individuals in the crowd that arrived with him had shields and batons and that one man had a spear and was dressed like a Viking. WATSON stated that, when they arrived in the hallway, “the police are freaking out because it looks like an armed crowd running in there and, at that point, was when I went straight up to the first cop and literally got on my knees and was like, ‘listen, I want to be peaceful here, we have to be peaceful here. I want to help you get these people peaceful so that we can have a conversation.” WATSON claimed that, at that point, he worked with the law enforcement officer for approximately 30 minutes to get people to calm down.”
The FBI agent indicates a United States Capitol Police Officer described Watson as “quiet and reserved and helped USCPO try to calm the crowd.” During a subsequent FBI interview on Jan. 15, Watson admitted he was carrying a can of mace into the Capitol, as well as a pocket knife. Watson says he used the knife to help tear down cloth around the Presidential Inauguration scaffolding so the crowd could move further up toward the U.S. Capitol building. Watson said the can of mace was given to him and had no intention of using it other than to defend himself. A video allegedly showing Watson aiming the can of mace in the direction of law enforcement outside the Capitol is also detailed in the report. Watson told police he did not initially mention having the mace during his initial Jan. 11 interview for fear of “more punishment.” When the FBI agents went back to Watson’s Auburn home to locate the can of mace, it appeared the mace and other items had been removed from Watson’s home. The issue was detailed by the case agent in the Affidavit:
“WATSON stated that the mace he had carried on his person at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, was at his residence, on his desk, by his computer. He consented to another search of his residence so that your affiant could locate the mace. Pursuant to WATSON’s consent, I searched his residence the same day but could not locate the mace. Upon entering WATSON’s residence, it appeared to your affiant that someone had entered the residence and removed several items since WATSON had been taken into custody and law enforcement had conducted its search on January 11, 2021. For example, the computer that WATSON told your affiant would be present on the desk with the mace canister was not in the residence when your affiant conducted a search on January 15, 2021.”
The three federal charges levied against Watson are explained in the affidavit:
“Affidavit establishes probable cause to believe that WATSON (1) committed or attempted to commit, any act to obstruct, impede, or interfere with any fireman or law enforcement officer lawfully engaged in the lawful performance of his official duties incident to and during the commission of a civil disorder which in any way or degree obstructed, delayed, or adversely affected the performance of any federally protected function; (2) did knowingly enter or remain in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, or did knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engage in disorderly or disruptive conduct, and during and in relation to the offense, used and carried a deadly and dangerous weapon; and (3) did willfully and knowingly engage in disorderly or disruptive conduct, at any place in the Grounds or in any of the Capitol Buildings with the intent to impede, disrupt, or disturb the orderly conduct of a session of Congress or either House of Congress, or the orderly conduct in that building of any deliberations of either House of Congress. Specifically, on or about January 6, 2021, WATSON, while carrying a canister of mace, knowingly and willfully joined a crowd of individuals who forcibly entered the U.S. Capitol and impeded, disrupted, and disturbed the orderly conduct of business by the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate.”
News 3 is working to determine if Watson has hired an attorney and when he is slated to be in court.
This is a developing story.