A Janesville man has been charged with being part of the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 that led to a police officer’s death as supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the building.
A criminal complaint filed Friday charges Michael Fitzgerald with obstructing law enforcement, knowingly entering a restricted building, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
The complaint includes photos that authorities say show Fitzgerald near the front of the lines that burst into the Capitol against the efforts of police.
After Jan. 6, the FBI shared photos of people who had been inside the Capitol, asking for help in identifying them.
Someone who knew Fitzgerald “through employment” reached out Jan. 8 and shared his address and phone number, according to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The next day, agents showed up in Janesville and met with Fitzgerald after he contacted them, confirming he was in one of the photos.
Fitzgerald, 42, of 626 S. Main St., wore a shirt that said “wild protest,” according to one of the photos.
Fitzgerald is seen entering the Capitol at about 2:47 p.m. local time on the Senate side of the building, the complaint states.
“Rioters aggressively pushed a podium placed in the middle doorway, which had acted as a barrier between the law enforcement officers and the rioters, against the law enforcement officers,” the complaint states, adding that the rioters threw objects at police and tried to hit police with a flagpole.
The complaint does not say whether Fitzgerald himself assaulted any officers. Photos show him near the front of the line, “participating in the push against law enforcement officers.”
In total, it appeared that he was in the Capitol for about 40 minutes before he left through a window.
Several police officers were also injured during the raid on the Capitol, which came as elected officials were attempting to formalize Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.
Before, during and after Jan. 6, Trump and other Republicans shared debunked theories about the election results, and courts roundly rejected the Trump campaign’s efforts to overturn them.
Two men have been charged with assaulting U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, The Associated Press reported March 15. Sicknick died at a hospital Jan. 7.
In total, five people died in connection to the events at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Attempts to reach Fitzgerald were not immediately successful Tuesday.
Janesville police on Tuesday confirmed that the Fitzgerald charged in federal court is the same Fitzgerald who started the local Veterans First Foundation, a group that helps struggling veterans.
A Gazette story from 2019 about the group said Fitzgerald was in the U.S. Marines, with whom he served as a communications specialist and completed an overseas deployment.
“This is a big veterans town,” Fitzgerald said of Janesville in 2019. “People are very patriotic.”
Court documents show at a status conference held Tuesday the parties agreed that Fitzgerald would “surrender” at a Zoom hearing at 2:30 p.m. Thursday. If he requests a preliminary or identity hearing, it is possible the court appearance will happen later.
This story, which was first reported by the Wisconsin State Journal, was updated at 5:37 p.m. with more details from the case. It was then updated at 8:14 p.m. with more details about Michael Fitzgerald.