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Air Force veteran, Jan. 6 rioter sentenced to two years in prison

Judge says Larry Brock’s incendiary rhetoric about 2020 election prevented him from giving lesser term to military vet

Rioters, including Larry R. Brock, at left in helmet, enter the Senate Chamber on Jan. 6, 2021. Brock, holding plastic zip-tie handcuffs, was convicted of obstruction of an official proceeding. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Soon after news outlets declared that Joe Biden had won the 2020 presidential election, retired Air Force lieutenant colonel Larry R. Brock Jr. began calling for revolution.

“We need to execute the traitors that are trying to steal the election, and that includes the leaders of the media and social media aiding and abetting the coup plotters,” Brock wrote on Facebook on Nov. 8, 2020. “No way in hell we should accept this rigged election,” he wrote in December. “I think SCOTUS needs to see if they don’t act that there will be blood.” On Christmas Eve, he wrote, “I bought myself body armor and a helmet for the civil war that is coming.”

On Jan. 6, 2021, he showed up on the floor of the U.S. Senate wearing that helmet and body armor, and carrying zip-tie handcuffs he had picked up inside the Capitol. Though he did not physically attack any police, his attire that day and his earlier comments caused a federal judge to sentence him Friday to two years in prison for obstructing the congressional certification of the electoral college vote.

Brock, 56, from Grapevine, Tex., graduated from the Air Force Academy and served nine years on active duty and another 16 years in the reserves as a pilot, and saw combat action in Afghanistan, his lawyer’s sentencing brief stated. Prosecutors noted in their brief that Brock was fired from his job as a sales leader in Fort Worth in 2018 for repeatedly threatening violence against his co-workers.

As with thousands of others, Brock attended the “Stop the Steal” rally hosted by President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, then marched to the Capitol and entered. His lawyer, Charles Burnham, claimed that Brock didn’t know he wasn’t allowed in the Capitol that day, despite the rampant chaos.

Once in the Capitol, Brock spent about 37 minutes inside, investigators determined, at one point scooping up zip-tie handcuffs that he was soon photographed with, as well as a set of keys he used to try to open the door off the Senate chamber through which Vice President Mike Pence had exited just moments before.

When he reached the Senate floor, he loudly proclaimed, “This is our house!” Assistant U.S. Attorney April Ayers-Perez wrote.

Soon after Brock’s photo appeared in the news media, his ex-wife called and identified him to federal authorities, according to court records. Brock also gave an interview to Ronan Farrow in the New Yorker, claiming that he hadn’t brought the zip-tie handcuffs to the Capitol but found them there.

Brock chose a bench trial before U.S. District Judge John D. Bates rather than a jury trial. In November, Bates convicted Brock of six counts: the felony obstruction charge and five misdemeanors. The judge called it “unfathomable that Mr. Brock believed he was authorized” to be there. He “could look around and realize that he was part of a mob,” Bates said.

Air Force combat veteran convicted of felony role in Jan. 6 riot

An initial sentencing guidelines calculation by the federal probation office determined that Brock should face a sentencing range of 57 to 71 months, and prosecutors recommended the judge impose a 60-month term.

But the guidelines calculation included an eight-level increase for causing or threatening to cause physical or property damage. Bates ruled that the increase was inappropriate because Brock hadn’t harmed anyone or damaged any property himself. The judge lowered the sentencing range to 24 to 30 months. Ayers-Perez still asked for a 60-month sentence.

Now came the time for Brock to speak to the judge. He declined. Burnham said Brock was still considering an appeal of his conviction.

The judge said he would typically consider a sentence at the low end of the guidelines’ range in such a case. Then with Brock’s military service, lack of criminal history and his attempts to stop some rioters from causing further damage, “that would lead me to vary downward from the guidelines. But we have to take into account the rhetoric,” the judge said, reading off page after page of Brock’s angry Facebook posts.

“I think it’s especially reprehensible and quite frankly unbelievable coming from a senior military officer,” the judge said. “It’s detailed, it’s consistent, it’s both astounding and atrocious. And we have no acceptance of responsibility and no showing of remorse whatsoever. Zero.”

In addition to sentencing Brock to 24 months in prison, Bates ordered him to serve two years on supervised release after his sentence and to perform 100 hours of community service. As with nearly all Jan. 6 defendants, he was not taken into custody after sentencing and allowed to arrange his own surrender date.

Brock is the 13th trial defendant to be sentenced for obstruction of an official proceeding, and the average sentence has been 45 months, according to Washington Post data. Of the 21 defendants who have pleaded guilty to the obstruction charge, the average sentence has been 28.4 months, Post data shows.

The Jan. 6 insurrection

The report: The Jan. 6 committee released its final report, marking the culmination of an 18-month investigation into the violent insurrection. Read The Post’s analysis about the committee’s new findings and conclusions.

The final hearing: The House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol held its final public meeting where members referred four criminal charges against former president Donald Trump and others to the Justice Department. Here’s what the criminal referrals mean.

The riot: On Jan. 6, 2021, a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 election results. Five people died on that day or in the immediate aftermath, and 140 police officers were assaulted.

Inside the siege: During the rampage, rioters came perilously close to penetrating the inner sanctums of the building while lawmakers were still there, including former vice president Mike Pence. The Washington Post examined text messages, photos and videos to create a video timeline of what happened on Jan. 6. Here’s what we know about what Trump did on Jan. 6.