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Shane Jason Woods pleads guilty to assault on media on Jan. 6 Capitol attack

The first rioter from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol to be charged with attacking a member of the news media pleaded guilty Friday to felony counts of assault on law enforcement and assault on a news photographer. Prosecutors estimated that he faces a possible sentence of 33 to 41 months in prison.

Shane Jason Woods, 44, drove to Washington from Auburn, Ill., where he owns Auburn Heating and Air. Court records show he was captured on video and in photographs on multiple occasions, on both the west and east sides of the Capitol, over a period of several hours. He was arrested on a federal complaint in June 2021, and indicted on eight felony assault and disorderly conduct charges last March.

Woods is one of about 11 rioters who have been charged with assaults on members of the news media or destroying their equipment. Reporters and photographers who were stationed in one area behind bike racks were overwhelmed by rioters at one point, leaving behind valuable equipment that was then destroyed.

FBI launches flurry of arrests over attacks on journalists during Capitol riot

Some of the cases do not specifically allege attacks on journalists, and there is no federal law specifically against attacking a journalist. So the Justice Department has charged those who went after reporters or their gear on Jan. 6 with committing violence in the restricted grounds of the Capitol, or destroying property on the Capitol grounds.

According to an FBI affidavit, Woods was first captured on video on the west side of the Capitol around 2:10 p.m. Several officers were attempting to arrest a struggling rioter when someone sprayed the officers with bear spray, the FBI said.

A U.S. Capitol Police officer, described as “Officer A,” told agents that as she ran toward the person with the bear spray, Woods tripped her and pushed her to the ground, sending her crashing into a downed bicycle barricade. The officer felt immediate pain and the next day, she felt as if she had been “hit by a truck,” the statement of facts entered Friday says.

The affidavit said the officer lost her helmet and was surrounded by other rioters until another officer came to her aid.

Woods’s whereabouts for the next three hours were not specified, but at 5 p.m., the FBI affidavit shows him at the mostly abandoned media area at the northeast corner of the Capitol, “standing with protesters who are yelling and spitting at members of the news media,” and then tossing some of the abandoned equipment.

A news photographer identified as “G.P.” was trying to leave the area to protect himself and his camera, according to the statement of facts. Woods took a running start and hit G.P. “with a blindside shoulder-tackle, knocking G.P. to the ground and causing him to drop his camera.” The extent of the photographer’s injuries was not known.

The U.S. attorney’s office for the District said Thursday that 870 people had been arrested for their actions on Jan. 6, 2021, and 269 of those are charged with assault on law enforcement. About 140 officers, 80 from the Capitol Police and 60 from the D.C. police, were assaulted that day, prosecutors said.

Twenty-eight people have pleaded guilty to assault on law enforcement, and 14 have been sentenced so far. The average sentence handed down for assault on law enforcement has been 47 months, according to a Washington Post database.

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