WASHINGTON – A North Carolina man pleaded guilty today to assaulting law enforcement officers with a dangerous weapon – chemical spray -- during the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. His 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.
Aiden Henry Bilyard, 20, of Cary, North Carolina, pleaded guilty in the District of Columbia.
According to court documents, on Jan. 6, 2021, at approximately 2:35 p.m., Bilyard was among a crowd of rioters illegally gathered in the Upper West Plaza of the Capitol grounds. He carried a gold-colored canister of “home defense pepper gel.” Bilyard pointed the nozzle of the canister at officers who were attempting to prevent the mob from proceeding further towards the Capitol Building. He then discharged the chemical irritant towards the group of officers. Immediately after he sprayed the irritant, Bilyard and other rioters overwhelmed the police line, causing the officers to retreat through a stairwell to the Lower West Terrace.
Bilyard also went to the Lower West Terrace. At approximately 4:10 p.m., he was in a group of rioters massed in front of a glass window to the Capitol Building. While there, he encouraged an individual who was striking the window with what appeared to be a small axe. Bilyard was handed a bat, which he used to shatter the lower glass portion of the window. He then turned to face the crowd and clapped and shouted in an act of encouragement for people to start entering the building. Bilyard also entered the Capitol by crawling through the window that he had shattered.
Bilyard was arrested on Nov. 22, 2021. He is to be sentenced on Feb. 2, 2023. He faces a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison and potential financial penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Department of Justice National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Charlotte Field Office. Valuable assistance was provided by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the Metropolitan Police Department, and the U.S. Capitol Police.
In the 21 months since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 880 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including over 270 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. The investigation remains ongoing.
Anyone with tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or visit tips.fbi.gov.