Jan. 6 rioter ordered to be detained after prosecutors point to ‘mind-numbingly dangerous’ conduct

John Banuelos, who was charged with firing a gun at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was ordered Tuesday by an Illinois judge to be detained because of what prosecutors called his “mind-numbingly dangerous” conduct that day.

Judge Beth Jantz of the Northern District of Illinois ordered Banuelos, 39, of Summit, Ill., to be detained pending his appearance in Washington, D.C., court on March 21, NBC News first reported.

Banuelos has been accused of climbing scaffolding and firing a gun in the air during the Capitol riot. He was arrested last Friday and was charged with several felony and misdemeanor counts, including firearm charges, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said.

According to building security footage, Banuelos was seen holding up his hand to form the shape of a “finger gun” and simulated firing it multiple times in the direction of officers.

He later was seen scaling scaffolding for the inaugural stage and pulling a firearm from his waistband. He allegedly raised the gun above his head and fired two shots into the air before putting the gun back into his waistband and climbing down, the DOJ said.

Prosecutors argued that Banuelos’s conduct was “mind-numbingly dangerous” and said “any number of life-threatening events could have transpired,” including an active shooter response from police or a stampede of other rioters.

“Fortunately, none of these events came to pass, but the fact that no such harm ensued does nothing to mitigate the seriousness of Banuelos’ actions,” they wrote.

According to a Utah court order from 2021, Banuelos is prohibited from possessing a firearm. DOJ said he posts videos online with guns, including a starter pistol that was recovered by police during a March 8, 2024, search of his mother’s house.

“Banuelos must be detained pending trial to protect the safety of the community and ensure his return to Court,” prosecutors said.

More than 1,300 people have been charged with crimes related to the attack on the Capitol. More than 800 have been sentenced, with roughly two-thirds receiving a term of imprisonment ranging from a few days to 22 years, The Associated Press reported.

—Updated at 6:18 p.m.

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