Benjamin Henry Torre, a 23-year-old man from Dawsonville, Georgia, was named as one of the most recent arrests related to the U.S. Capitol siege last month, the FBI announced today.
Torre claimed U.S. Capitol Police “helped” them into the building, and said one day he could tell his children about what he did, according to the criminal complaint filed in his case. Investigators allege that Torre was among a group who broke into the office of Senator Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat who shared a video on Twitter of damage to his “hideaway office.” Torre told investigators he was not involved in violence or property damage.
“Benjamin Harry Torre, 23, of Dawsonville, GA was arrested by #FBI Atlanta this morning on charges relating to criminal acts at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021,” FBI Atlanta wrote on Twitter.
Torre was charged with “Knowingly Entering or Remaining in any Restricted Building or Grounds Without Lawful Authority; Violent Entry and Disorderly Conduct on Capitol Grounds” and arrested in the Northern District of Georgia on February 9, 2021, according to charging documents filed in his case. His bail was set at $20,000.
Here’s what you need to know:
Torre Told Federal Agents He Attended the ‘Stop the Steal’ Rally With His Parents & Crawled Into the Capitol Building Through a Broken Window
Federal agents received a tip that Torre was involved in the siege on the Capitol building January 6, 2021, during discussions to certify the electoral votes for President Joe Biden. A group of Trump supporters attended a “Stop the Steal” rally before the siege, in which former President Donald Trump voiced claims about election fraud. A smaller group of his supporters then broke into the U.S. Capitol while legislators were discussing those voter fraud claims and whether Biden’s votes should be certified.
Investigators interviewed Torre at his home January 21. He told them he drove to Washington, D.C. with members of his family, including his parents, for the rally, according to the criminal complaint filed in his case. He told agents he attended the rally because he is a “patriot” and said Trump told those at the rally to “peacefully march to the Capitol.”
The tip stemmed from an FBI flyer which included photos of people pictured within the U.S. Capitol. Agents received an email from a person, identifying one of the people in the photos as Torre. That person said Torre had talked about being involved in the Capitol siege.
Torre Told Agents Capitol Police ‘Helped’ Them & Said Protesters Could Have Caused More Damage
In his interview with FBI agents, Torre told police the storm of the U.S. Capitol was not the same as it was depicted on social media, according to the affidavit of probable cause filed in his case. He said officers “helped us in the Capitol” and claimed police were “completely fine” with the group in front of the building. Torre further said he spoke to a line of officers and told them “We are in support of you and we back the blue.” He claimed police did not shout or try to stop them from entering the building, and said he thought police were trying to block people from climbing scaffolding because they didn’t want anyone to get hurt.
He said that he saw someone break a window to the U.S. Capitol building with a cane and then unlock a door. At that point, he said “things got a little heated.” He told investigators he climbed into the building through a broken window and left the same way.
In an office, which investigators later identified as Merkley’s office, he said someone lit a cigarette. He recalled thinking, “If we were really as violent as people think we are, we could take that and light the sofa,” the affidavit said.
The FBI included in its court filing Instagram posts in which Torre was tagged. The photo shows a boat with a “Trump 2020” flag.
Another post, which tagged Torre, shows the Lincoln Memorial at night. A person commented, “did ya storm the capital” with a flexed arm emoji. The original poster responded, “no and I think it was wrong that we did.”
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