Video: Why were so many from Tampa Bay involved in insurrection?
TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Seffner man who pepper-sprayed officers during the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot has been sentenced to 55 months in prison, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in a press release Friday.
Last June, Mitchell Todd Gardner II, 34, pleaded guilty to felony charges of civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding, and assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers with a dangerous weapon.
According to court documents, Gardner was part of a mob that fought police outside the Lower West Terrace Tunnel. He was heard shouting “drag them out,” “pull the cops out,” and “grab their hands and pull them out.”
Authorities said Gardner used a Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Oleoresin Capsicum device, or pepper spray, against officers in the tunnel area, which hit an officer in the face shield and splattered onto at least two other officers, burning their eyes and making them cough for an extended period of time.
Authorities said he also encouraged rioters to use a ladder to break a window. When they didn’t, he decided to stand on a ledge and bash a window in with a pepper spray canister, causing more than $2,900 in damage.
After that, he entered the Senate Terrace room, and encouraged other rioters to enter the building. He handed one of them a table or desk leg, that they used to assault police officers.
Gardner was also seen cheering on another rioter who threw a fire extinguisher at police.
Gardner was arrested on June 25, 2021 in Tampa.
According to the Justice Department, more than 999 people have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for their involvement in the attack.