October 18, 2021

Cortlandville man charged in Capitol uprising

Watrous stayed 5 minutes, then left

Todd R. McAdam/managing editor

A banner still flies in front of the house of Richard B. Watrous of Route 281, Cortland, reading "DJT: Save America, Told ya!" The FBI and federal Justice Department have charged Watrous with taking part in the Jan. 6 incursion of the U.S. Capitol.

A Cortlandville man has been charged with participating in the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S, Capitol in Washington, D.C., the FBI announced.

“Cortland resident Richard B. Watrous was arrested by our office for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riots,” according to a brief statement issued by the FBI in response to a Cortland Standard request to confirm his residence.

Watrous has displayed messages supporting former President Donald Trump and critical of President Joe Biden on bedsheets hung outside his home at 4447 Route 281 for many months.

According to a Criminal Complaint that FBI Special Agent Michael Ren filed Sept. 21 in U.S. District Court, Watrous was charged with:
•Entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds.
•Disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds.
•Disorderly conduct in a capital building
•Parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a capital building.

The Capitol was closed to the public on Jan. 6 and barriers erected outside because Congress was meeting to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.

After entering the Capitol, Watrous heard someone yell, “They just killed a girl,” an apparent reference to Ashli Babbitt, who authorities have since said was shot while part of a group forcing their way through a doorway, according to the criminal complaint.

“Watrous stated that the people around him seemed like troublemakers and did not seem like peaceful protestors,” the complaint reads.

“This is crazy,” Watrous recalled thinking, according to the complaint. “What the hell is going on here. The whole vibe was uncomfortable for me because I could see something else going on. I was pissed they were allowing it to go on.”

After leaving, he sat on the steps outside and was passed by a man who said he was going to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, he told authorities. The man came out later crying, apparently from being pepper sprayed, holding a bottle with a label that read “Democratic Convention.”

“I got Nancy Pelosi’s wine,” he told Watrous.

Watrous said he was leaving and met a woman who wanted to go into the Capitol. They went in and stopped briefly in the rotunda before leaving, according to a court document.

Watrous told authorities he had traveled to a rally that was held in Washington, D.C. the morning of Jan. 6, at which Trump spoke. Watrous said he then went to the Capitol, where protesters had already climbed scaffolding outside that was erected in advance of the upcoming inauguration.

Shortly before 2 p.m., the crowd broke through closed doors and windows and began to enter the building.
Lawmakers and then-Vice President Michael Pence were evacuated about 2:20 p.m.

During the investigation, authorities reviewed surveillance video and other recordings. Video showed Watrous entering the Capital at 2:48 p.m. through a door.

He is described as wearing a red “Trump” cap and a blue bandana for a facemask and a blue coat with tan patches.

The investigator said Watrous remained in the hallway until 2:53 p.m., then left through the same door.
Cell phone records confirmed his phone was at the Capitol at that time.

During the interview, Watrous stated he planned to go to Washington, D.C, on Jan. 21, 2021, as soon as former President Trump told people to, the complaint states.

Watrous stated that Jan. 6 was significant because of the debate on Capitol Hill to certify the presidential election,î the complaint states. Watrous stated that even though he was attending, he did not feel he was going to have any big impact on what was happening in Congress.