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Press Release

Oklahoma Man Arrested for Assault on Media During Jan. 6 Capitol Breach

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia
Assailant Repeatedly Attacked Member of News Media, Marks Eighth Defendant Arrested for Assault on Press

            WASHINGTON — An Oklahoma man was arrested on Aug. 19 for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, which disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress that was in the process of ascertaining and counting the electoral votes related to the presidential election.

            Benjamen Scott Burlew, 41, of Miami, Oklahoma, is charged with federal offenses that include assault in special territorial jurisdiction and acts of physical violence on restricted grounds. Burlew made his initial court appearance in the Northern District of Oklahoma on Aug. 20.

            According to court documents, Burlew was captured in two videos engaging in a physical assault against a credentialed media member who works as a photographer for the Associated Press. As depicted in the video, the photographer was pulled down a set of stairs near the lower west terrace of the U.S. Capitol Building by two unknown assailants. While attempting to avoid confrontation with these unknown assailants, the photographer relocated his position elsewhere on the stairs, at which point the photographer was aggressively confronted by Burlew. As alleged, after that confrontation, Burlew, together with other assailants including Alan William Byerly, grabbed the photographer and pushed him, then shoved and dragged him parallel to the stairs. Byerly was indicted on Aug. 20 in the District of Columbia in connection with this conduct and for assaulting a District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Officer during another, separate incident.

            After shoving the photographer, Burlew disengaged and walked in the other direction while the other assailants continued to push and drag the victim.

            Later, the photographer can be observed on video having been backed up against a low stone wall separating the U.S. Capitol structure from the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol by the assailants. As alleged, Burlew lunged toward the photographer and grabbed his upper chest and leg to forcefully throw and push the photographer over the wall to the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building, several feet below. Burlew continued to shove and push the photographer until the photographer was thrown backward over the wall, where he landed on his back on the grounds of the west lawn. As alleged, Burlew can be seen in the video leaning over the wall to observe his fall.

            Burlew is one of eight individuals in this investigation who have been arrested for allegedly destroying media equipment, assaulting journalists or inciting violence against members of news media. Other defendants facing similar charges include: Chase Kevin Allen, 25, of, Reno, Nevada; Joshua Dillon Haynes, 39, of Covington, Virginia; Sandra Weyer, 57, of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania; Shane Jason Woods, 43, of Auburn, Illinois; Gabriel Morgan Brown, 38, of Bayville, New York; Zvonimir Joseph Jurlina, 31, of Bethpage, New York; and Alan William Byerly, 54, of Fleetwood, Pennsylvania.

            The 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 Northern District of Oklahoma.

            The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, which identified Burlew as #195 and Byerly as #193, in its seeking information photos, as well as the Metropolitan Police Department, with significant assistance provided by the U.S. Capitol Police and FBI’s Oklahoma City Field Office. 

            In the seven months since Jan. 6, more than 570 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including over 170 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

            The charges contained in any criminal complaint or indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated August 24, 2021

National Security