A photo shared by The New York Times magazine shows a man in a black helmet and black jacket standing atop a statue in the Capitol.
That man, Stephen Horn, is now facing four charges for his alleged role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The 23-year-old North Carolina resident said he was there to document what was happening as an independent journalist.
“Knowing what I know now, I probably would have done something different,” said Horn, who lives in Youngsville, just north of Raleigh. “Just the fact that the Department of Justice decided to prosecute me. Certainly, going in there, I didn’t expect that I would be prosecuted just for reporting on this riot that was taking place.”
FBI agents say Horn walked over a fence on the ground with a “No trespassing” sign before walking into the Capitol building during the attack and making his way to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office.
Horn can be heard in the video chanting “U.S.A.” with others in the Capitol building, according to the FBI.
The video is no longer on Facebook, and Horn said the company deleted his page after media coverage of his arrest.
Horn is one of more than 700 people who have been arrested in the attack. Supporters of former President Trump fought with police and forced their way into the building in an attempt to stop the certification of the election for Joe Biden.
Horn was arrested April 9 and freed on a personal recognizance bond. He pleaded not guilty to the charges of entering and remaining in a restricted building; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building; violent entry and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building; parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol building.
Last week, Virginia Spencer was the first of the Capitol attack defendants from North Carolina to be sentenced. A judge sentenced her to 90 days in jail and three years on probation.
Spencer pleaded guilty in September.
Horn has pleaded not guilty and said he wouldn’t comment on any ongoing discussions with federal prosecutors on a possible plea deal.
“For a while I had sort of been intending to go to at least one Trump rally just to see what it was like,” Horn told Spectrum News 1 in an interview Monday.
“I could see that Trump was sort of a different sort of politician. I don’t support Trump, I never have, I probably never will. But I just wanted to go to one to see what it was like,” he said.
He said he does not identify as a Republican, but his politics are on the conservative side. Horn is registered as an unaffiliated voter in the North Carolina State Board of Elections system.
Horn said he traveled to Washington D.C. in a bus of Trump supporters.
“I wasn’t planning to really do anything on the rally specifically, but I was prepared if I saw unrest or things like that to report on it,” he said.
He showed a custom-made helmet to Spectrum News 1 with a hidden camera, the same helmet he was wearing in the photo from the Capitol, he said. Horn said he made the helmet after seeing a news crew attacked during Black Lives Matter protests in downtown Raleigh.
When he got to the Capitol building Jan. 6, he said he saw people clashing with police, and one person being carried away on a stretcher.
He saw more people clash with police as he made his way through the building.
“In the Crypt of the Rotunda, I wasn’t close enough to see the specifics of the assault, but there were people basically fighting the police trying to push them back,” he said. “I did see somebody throw a fire extinguisher over my head and toward the police.”
Horn told Spectrum News 1 that he contacted the FBI and the North Carolina Attorney General and offered to share his video with investigators.
He shared an email that he said he sent to the North Carolina Department of Justice on Jan. 8, which says in part, “I have footage of the crimes which were committed at the US Capitol on January 6th.”
Horn said he again offered to share his video with the FBI when he was interviewed by agents on Feb. 24. But, Horn said, the agents told him they already had the video he published online.