© 2024 All Rights reserved WUSF
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
You Count on Us, We Count on You: Donate to WUSF to support free, accessible journalism for yourself and the community.

Florida Proud Boy Christopher Worrell sentenced to 10 years in prison

 Court documents from the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia shows Christopher Worrell spraying pepper spray gel on police officers at the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6, 2020.
Special to WGCU
Court documents from the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia shows Christopher Worrell spraying pepper spray gel on police officers at the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6, 2020.

Florida Proud Boy sentenced on felony charges for assaulting police officers during Jan. 6. Capitol breach defendant became a fugitive to avoid sentencing, triggering a 6-week manhunt.

Christopher Worrell of Naples has been sentenced to 120 months in prison on multiple felony counts that included assaulting a group of police officers with a deadly and dangerous weapon.

The charges stemmed from the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol breach incident.

Worrell's actions and the actions of others disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress convened to ascertain and count the electoral votes related to the 2020 presidential election.

According to court documents, Worrell had been found guilty May 12, 2023, after a bench trial in the District of Columbia during which he perjured himself. On August 14, 2023, four days prior to his previously scheduled sentencing in U.S. District Court, Worrell cut off his GPS ankle monitor in a Walmart parking lot and became a fugitive.

Worrell’s disappearance triggered an FBI manhunt that culminated six weeks later in his arrest at his home in Naples. In addition to an unresponsive Worrell, the FBI also found night-vision goggles, a wallet with approximately $4,000 in cash, and a bag with new camping gear inside. Worrell later admitted that he had faked an opioid overdose as a strategy to delay sentencing. Sheriff’s deputies were required to guard Worrell in his hospital room during his five-day alleged recovery.

In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth ordered 36 months of supervised release, restitution of $2,000, and a $610 special assessment.

According to the government’s evidence, Worrell plotted his trip to D.C. with other Proud Boys from the “Hurricane Coast” for weeks leading up to January 6, participating in conversations in which the police were called traitors and Proud Boys brainstormed ways to disrupt the certification. Consistent with this planning, Worrell arrived in in the District ready for battle, wearing body armor, and carrying two cans of Sabre Red Maximum Strength Pepper Gel and a large radio to coordinate with his Hurricane Coast zone-mates.

This photo shows part of the Justice Department's statement of facts in the complaint and arrest warrant for Christopher John Worrell.  Worrell, a member of the Proud Boys, was accused of attacking police officers with a pepper spray gel and prosecutors have alleged he traveled to Washington and coordinated with Proud Boys leading up to the siege.
Jon Elswick/AP
/
AP
This photo shows part of the Justice Department's statement of facts in the complaint and arrest warrant for Christopher John Worrell. Worrell, a member of the Proud Boys, was accused of attacking police officers with a pepper spray gel and prosecutors have alleged he traveled to Washington and coordinated with Proud Boys leading up to the siege.

Intent on obstructing the certification, he did not wait for the former president to call his supporters to the Capitol. Instead, Worrell marched with a larger group of Proud Boys onto Capitol grounds, threatening U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) officers along the way to “honor their oaths” or face the Proud Boys’ wrath.

Worrell and other “Zone 5” members from the “Hurricane Coast” Proud Boys chapter breached the restricted perimeter and reached the West Plaza of the Capitol by approximately 1 p.m. Once on Capitol grounds, Worrell spewed vitriol for half an hour at the overwhelmed officers restraining the mob. He filmed himself calling the USCP officers “scum,” “piece[s] of “sh**,” and “commies,” among other expletives and insults.

About 1:31 p.m., Worrell stepped forward and sprayed pepper gel at a line of police officers trying to defend the Capitol from the mob on the West Plaza. Worrell later bragged that he had “deployed a whole can” and was “f****** handing it to them.” A photojournalist present at the Capitol witnessed Worrell spraying toward the officers, and took a photograph that captured the moment. It was exactly the kind of criminal assault on officers that one of Worrell’s Proud Boy colleagues had called for in earlier Telegram conversations. Worrell immediately retreated to safety and gloated about his assault to his co-defendant Daniel Scott.

About 20 minutes later, Worrell’s fellow Zone 5 Proud Boy member and co-defendant Daniel Scott shoved two USCP officers who were defending a staircase leading to the Upper West Terrace of the Capitol. Scott’s assaults collapsed the police line, allowing a large group of rioters to make their way up the stairs to the Capitol building, where they became the first group of rioters to break into the building itself. Worrell and other members of Zone 5 celebrated Scott’s assault, with Worrell turning the camera on himself to say: “Yeah! Taking the Capitol!”

Shortly after January 6, Worrell posted to Facebook: “The violence was perpetrated on civil protestors. Not one person was causing harm or inciting violence on those steps!! The Capitol COMMIE Police fired tear gas and flash bangs into a PEACEFUL CROWD!!” He also claimed, falsely, that the Capitol Police “opened” the Capitol’s east side “with intention of letting others in,”

Worrell was arrested on March 12, 2021, in Naples, Florida.

Worrell was found guilty on May 12, 2023, on six felony counts and a misdemeanor that included assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon, obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress, and obstructing, impeding, or interfering with officers during the commission of a civil disorder, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon, engaging in physical violence with a deadly or dangerous weapon all felonies, and an act of physical violence in the Capitol Grounds or Buildings, a misdemeanor.

Braun, Michael

On August 14, 2023, Worrell cut off his GPS ankle monitor and absconded. On September 28, 2023, Worrell was captured and re-arrested after returning to his home.

The verdict followed a five-day bench trial before U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth, who commented in reading the verdict that Worrell’s claim that he had been pepper spraying other violent rioters, instead of U.S. Capitol Police officers, was “preposterous” and that the Worrell’s testimony presented an “unbelievable” and “false narrative” that was “undermined by the contradictions and post-January 6 false statements identified by the government during Mr. Worrell’s cross-examination and the government’s rebuttal case.”

WGCU is your trusted source for news and information in Southwest Florida. We are a nonprofit public service, and your support is more critical than ever. Keep public media strong and donate now. Thank you.

Copyright 2024 WGCU. To see more, visit WGCU.

WGCU Staff