A former California police chief who brought an ax to the Capitol on January 6, 2021, has been sentenced to more than 11 years in prison for his role in the siege.
Alan Hostetter, who spewed conspiracy theories during his trial and again during his hearing Thursday, was found guilty of multiple felony charges, including conspiracy, in July.
The Justice Department said Hostetter drove from his home state of California to Washington, D.C., before Jan. 6 instead of flying “so he could load his car with weapons.” Federal prosecutors said he met with others the morning of the attack and brought “tactical gear, a helmet, axes, knives, tasers, pepper spray and other gear for himself and others.” He attended the rally in the White House Ellipse before heading to the Capitol carrying an ax in his backpack, according to prosecutors.
He joined a group that slipped through a line of police officers guarding the lower terrace on the west side of the Capitol. Once on the upper level, Hostetter called out, “The people got their house back. Hundreds of thousands of patriots showed up today to take back the government!”
In arguments Thursday, a Justice Department lawyer detailed Hostetter’s actions and said he was a “terrorist” on Jan. 6. The prosecutor cited Hostetter’s comments in the days before the attack, in which he allegedly said, “Suffocate this city. Fill it with patriots.” He urged others to “put the fear of God into the members of Congress.”
In a nearly hour-long statement pleading for leniency, Hostetter claimed the 2020 election was “stolen” and revealed a series of other baseless theories, including a claim that January 6 was a “false flag” operation orchestrated by the federal government. He claimed there were “crisis actors” in the crowd, claiming “hundreds, if not thousands” of people were part of a deliberate government “push” aimed at trapping protesters.
Hostetter also referred to presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who referred to Jan. 6 as an “inside job” during Wednesday’s Alabama Republican debate. Hostetter said the comment was an indication that his beliefs were no longer “fringe” theories.
Judge Royce Lambert, who found Hostetter guilty earlier this year, handed down one of the longest sentences handed down in any of the roughly 1,200 Jan. 6 cases that have been filed so far. In sentencing Hostetter to 135 months in prison, Lambert said, “The First Amendment does not give anyone the right to obstruct, obstruct, or carry a weapon in restricted areas.”
During his lengthy statement in court, Hostetter also mentioned Ashley Babbitt, a member of the rioting mob who was fatally shot by police as she climbed through a window just outside the House chamber, near trapped members of Congress. Hostetter said he did not believe Babbitt was actually killed and that reports of her death were part of “psychology.”
Babbitt’s mother was in court watching Hostetter’s hearing at the time. She told CBS News that she was deeply offended by Hostetter’s words, but disagreed with the length of the sentence handed down, calling it excessive.
Hostetter will report to federal prison in early January, around the three-year mark of the Capitol siege. He said he would appeal his sentence.
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