Capitol riot attendee argued she was allowed inside the building on January 6 because she looked up the hours online and it said it was open
- A California woman was arrested and charged in connection to the Capitol riot on Friday in Alabama.
- Stephanie Baez boasted about her attendance on her Instagram during and after the insurrection, prosecutors allege.
- She told authorities she was allowed to be in the building because she previously confirmed online that the Capitol would be open.
An alleged Capitol riot attendee, who prosecutors say boasted about her presence at the pro-Trump insurrection on social media, told authorities that she had permission to be in the Capitol on January 6 because she had previously looked up the building's operating hours to confirm it was open so she could tour the site.
Stephanie Baez, a 27-year-old California woman, told authorities she traveled to Washington, DC, in January to attend then-President Donald Trump's rally and to look at medical schools, according to court documents.
She was arrested in connection to the riot on Friday in Alabama, according to the Department of Justice.
Baez documented her experience during the attack in extensive Instagram posts, praising the "patriots" who "stormed" the Capitol and offering to give an interview to a fellow Instagram user, according to a criminal complaint.
"I cannot believe the hypocrisy on the left from this. The only bad thing Trump supporters did, which I will call out, was break windows," she told an Instagram user later that night, according to court documents. "Cops LET THEM PAST the barriers. And the citizens of America are ALLOWED TO BE IN THE CAPITOL BUILDING WHEN ANYTHING IS IN SESSION."
Months later, during a non-custodial interview with Justice Department officials, Baez would parrot the same justification for her presence in the Capitol that day.
Around January 6, the FBI received an anonymous tip pointing authorities to an Instagram user who posted videos of herself during the riot. The tipster identified the user as Baez and officials confirmed her identity using her listed phone number and California Department of Motor Vehicle records, the criminal complaint said.
The FBI was later alerted to another video posted to Instagram of Baez being interviewed in front of what appeared to be the Capitol on January 6, court records said. The video was captioned, "Girl is 'Looking for Proud Boy!'" a seeming reference to the neo-fascist group whose members were present during the Capitol attack.
-Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) June 4, 2021
Authorities confirmed Baez was inside the Capitol on January 6 by identifying her in video footage and using cellphone GPS data to place her in the area, the complaint said.
Baez posted a photo of herself to Instagram on January 8 dressed in the same black shirt she was seen wearing in open source video footage from the day of the Capitol attack. The shirt features a photo of author George Orwell and attributes to him the quote "BOY DID I CALL IT OR WHAT?"
"Welcome to 1984! Things are going to get crazy," Baez's photo caption reads. "But as long as Patriots love America, she won't fall…"
In April, officials interviewed Baez about her attendance and she identified herself as the owner of the Instagram accounts in question, documents said. She reportedly told authorities that she believed she could be inside the Capitol because police told her so. She also said "everyone was calm" and some people were "just following groups," and she thought it was "insane" not to take that into consideration.
She said she believed that several participants were not aware that they weren't supposed to be in the building and claimed she had authority to be inside the Capitol because she had previously confirmed it was open for tours, according to the complaint. Prosecutors said Baez also told officials she had looked up the hours because it was "so close" to where Trump was speaking and she was "just checking out what else" was in the area to see.
During the interview, Baez identified herself in screenshots of video footage taken inside the Capitol on January 6, according to the complaint. Authorities also obtained a search warrant for Baez's Instagram accounts, which revealed several messages confirming her attendance at the insurrection, court documents showed.
"My proudest moment…," she said about a picture showing her at the Capitol.
Baez was arrested on two charges, including knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
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