A Harford County man is facing federal felony and misdemeanor charges for joining the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, where authorities say he blocked police from leaving the building.
Dressed in black tactical gear, a helmet and a backpack, Brandon Keith Heffner, 38, and other rioters could be seen in video footage from the social media application Parler blocking an exterior door on the U.S. Capitol’s lower west terrace and holding it shut, preventing police from exiting to deploy tear gas, federal authorities said in a news release Tuesday.
“Spread the word,” another unnamed rioter said within the fray Heffner allegedly joined. “They’re trying to come out and tear gas.”
FBI agents on Tuesday arrested Heffner in Windsor Mill for his role in disrupting the joint session of the U.S. Congress that convened to count the electoral votes for the 2020 presidential election. He is facing a felony charge for obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder as well as misdemeanor offenses for knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building, according to a criminal complaint filed in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia released Heffner Tuesday on personal recognizance bond with some conditions including he must stay away from Washington, D.C., except for court hearings and meetings with counsel or investigators. He is represented by attorney Andres Jalon, who could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday evening.
Prior to his arrest, FBI agents interviewed Heffner in November 2021 in a public parking lot. The 38-year-old acknowledged he was a former member of The Proud Boys, an all-male, neo-fascist group with a history of taking part in violence, and confirmed he was at the Capitol that day. Heffner denied going inside the building and said his beard was too short to be that of the person depicted in investigators’ photo from Jan. 6.
Federal authorities note that Heffner was also arrested on Dec. 12, 2020, in Washington, D.C., for assaulting a police officer, during which time he was wearing a black tactical vest, black helmet and a much longer beard. Supporters of then-President Donald Trump, including members of the Proud Boys, clashed with counterprotesters that day in D.C.
A confidential informant later told FBI agents on March 15, 2022, that Heffner is a chapter leader for the Maryland/District of Columbia Proud Boys. The informant identified Heffner as the individual in the photographs.
The FBI’s Baltimore and Washington field offices investigated the case with assistance from the U.S. Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department.
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. Assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland.
Heffner joins 16 other Marylanders facing charges related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol. Federal authorities say they are prosecuting more than 1,200 individuals from nearly all 50 states with crimes related to the insurrection. More than 400 individuals are charged with felonies for assaulting or impeding law enforcement.