Jan. 6 rioter accused of being first to enter Capitol convicted for obstruction

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Michael Sparks, the man accused of being the first rioter to enter the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, has been convicted on charges that he interfered with police and obstructed Congress from certifying the election results.

A federal jury in Washington, D.C. convicted Sparks, 46, a Kentucky resident, on all six charges he faced, including two felonies. U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly is set to sentence him on July 9, The Associated Press reported.

On the day of the Capitol riot, Sparks jumped through a broken window just after another rioter smashed it open. Inside the Capitol, he joined other people in chasing a police officer up a flight of stairs.

A prosecutor for the Department of Justice said during his trial that Sparks was the “tip of the spear,” and he entered the building less than a minute before senators evacuated the chamber to escape.

Sparks’ defense attorney, Scott Wendelsdorf, conceded that Sparks is guilty of four misdemeanor counts, including trespassing and disorderly conduct, but pushed back on the felony charges — civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding.

After attending the “Stop the Steal” rally, Sparks, wearing a tactical vest, made his way to the front of the mob. He jumped in the Capitol window after other rioters told him not to, and a U.S. Capitol Police officer pepper sprayed him in the face.

Wendelsdorf said Sparks left the Capitol when he realized former Vice President Mike Pence would not overturn the results of the election on behalf of former President Trump.

Sparks was arrested after a tipster recognized him the day after the riots. Sparks reportedly had said he was attending a pro-Trump rally in Washington and said, “this time we are going to shut it down.”

A day after the riot, Sparks texted his mother that he would “go again given the opportunity.” The DOJ argued that he showed no remorse. By the time he went back to Kentucky, photos circulated online identifying him. Sparks called the local police department and offered to turn himself in, prosecutors said.

He was arrested on Jan. 19, 2021, and he was indicted on Feb. 5, 2021, followed by a superseding indictment in November of the same year.

The Associated Press contributed reporting.

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