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Central Texas businessman arrested after allegedly entering the Capitol during riot

Chris Grider
Posted at 4:50 PM, Jan 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 20:55:18-05

A Central Texas businessman has been arrested after allegedly entering the U.S. Capitol during the January 6 riot.

A criminal complaint was filed against Christopher Ray Grider for willfully injuring or committing any depredation against any government property or contracts, knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol Grounds.

He surrendered himself to FBI agents in Austin Thursday afternoon. Grider made his initial court appearance in Austin Friday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Hightower. He will remain in custody pending a detention hearing on Jan. 27th.

Judge Hightower also ordered the appointment of a public defender to represent Grider who testified that he is financially unable to hire a lawyer, according to Judge Hightower’s Courtroom Deputy.

Grider is the owner of Kissing Tree Vineyards in Eddy, Texas.

According to the complaint, on January 6, Grider was interviewed by a Waco television station. In that interview, Grider stated he was inside of the Capitol when a woman, later identified as Ashli Babbitt, was shot and killed.

The complaint states that Grider stated on camera, “The president asked people to come and show their support. I feel like it’s the least that we can do. It’s kind of why I came from Central Texas all the way to DC.”

Grider also said, “They were shocked as everyone else was when the people on the other side of the door, from 20 feet away, shot her in the chest. At that point we were all panicked, we couldn’t leave because there were thousands of people behind us pushing us forward.”

After the interview aired, law enforcement gathered several videos from open sources, which they say corroborated Grider's admission that he was inside the Capitol on January 6.

The complaint states that the video showed Grider wearing a black puffy jacket, a yellow "Don't Treat on Me" flag tied around his neck, a black backpack around his shoulders, and blue jeans.

Chris Grider
Chris Grider

Law enforcement agents pulled Grider's driver's license photo and confirmed the individual depicted in the screenshots matched the appearance of the license photo.

The complaint states that before entering the Capitol, Grider was caught on video in what appears to be the southwest side standing on a marble landing near scaffolding. He was allegedly taking videos or pictures of the crowd with his phone.

Grider allegedly moved with the initial crowd that later forced their way into the Capitol. Once inside, the complaint says Grider was observed inside the rotunda, the hallway to the House of Representatives, and several other areas before eventually arriving outside the Speaker's Lobby where the shooting happened.

Minutes later, video allegedly shows Grider in front of the glass doors which lead to the Speaker's Lobby. At one point, a man standing next to Grider attempted to break the glass window. Grider allegedly handed a black helmet to this man, then spoke to the man as Grider appeared to knock on the top of the helmet, showing that it is a hard instrument.

The man then accepted the helmet and used it to strike the glass doors, breaking the glass that Babbitt eventually attempted to jump through.

Grider was allegedly caught on camera attempting to push open the doors and then kick the doors in an attempt to breach the entrance leading to House Chamber where members of Congress were located.

Chris Grider

The complaint states Grider was observed backing away from the Speaker's Lobby door as people were screaming, "gun." The officer on the other side of the door subsequently fired a single gunshot that hit and killed Babbitt.

After the shooting, several people ran out of the hallway as police were yelling to get out of the way. A path was cleared to allow Babbitt to be carried out of the building.

The complaint says Grider remained and could be seen minutes after the shooting "leaning over the railing to get a better glimpse of Babbitt bleeding on the floor."

The complaint states the damage to the Speaker's Lobby doors exceeds $1,000.