WASHINGTON, D.C. – A Somerset County man pleaded guilty Thursday to two felony charges for assaulting law enforcement officers with a dangerous weapon – pepper spray – causing bodily injury to the officers during the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
His actions and the actions of others disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress convened to ascertain and count the electoral votes related to the presidential election.
Julian Elie Khater, 33, of Somerset pleaded guilty in the District of Columbia to two counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers with a dangerous weapon.
According to court documents, Khater and a co-defendant — George Pierre Tanios – traveled together to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021. Prior to the trip, Tanios purchased two cannisters of bear spray and two cannisters of pepper spray. He provided one cannister of pepper spray to Khater prior to arriving in Washington. On Jan. 6, the two men attended a rally near the Ellipse and then headed towards the Capitol, where they joined others in a mob illegally on the grounds.
Khater then walked through the crowd to within a few steps of a bike rack barrier being used by a line of law enforcement officers attempting to secure the Capitol and its grounds. Khater stood directly across from officers. At 2:23 p.m., people in the mob began pulling on the bike rack barrier using ropes and their hands to pull the rack away. Seconds later, from less than eight feet away, Khater sprayed pepper spray from a cannister in his right hand at the officers. He first sprayed a U.S. Capitol Police Officer, identified in court documents as “Officer B.S.,” in the face. That officer then turned his head away and retreated from the police line.
Khater continued to deploy the spray, advancing towards another Capitol Police officer, identified in court documents as “Officer C.E.,” and spraying her directly in the eyes from only a few feet away. She dropped her head and retreated, requiring the assistance of another officer because she was unable to see. Khater then sprayed a Metropolitan Police Department officer, identified in court documents as “Officer D.C.,” directly in the face. That officer also immediately retreated from the line. All three officers suffered bodily injury from the pepper spray attack and were incapacitated and unable to perform their duties.
Khater and Tanios were arrested on March 14, 2021. Tanios, 42, of Morgantown, West Virginia, pleaded guilty in the District of Columbia on July 27, 2022, to entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds and disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds. The charges carry a combined statutory maximum of two years in prison and potential financial penalties. Tanios is to be sentenced on Dec. 6, 2022.
Khater is to be sentenced on Dec. 13, 2022. He faces a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison on each of the two counts of assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers with a dangerous weapon. The charges also carry potential financial penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey.
The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, which identified Khater as #190 and Tanios as #254 on its seeking information photos. Valuable assistance was provided by the FBI’s Pittsburgh and Newark Field Offices, as well as the Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Capitol Police.
In the 19 months since Jan. 6, 2021, more than 860 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including over 260 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. The investigation remains ongoing.
Anyone with tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or visit tips.fbi.gov.