Proud Boys Member Who Threatened Police With Ax Handle on Jan. 6 Is Sentenced

A member of the Proud Boys extremist group who threatened police officers with an ax handle and breached the U.S. Capitol during the attack on Jan. 6, 2021, was sentenced on Friday to nearly five years in prison, federal prosecutors said.

Judge Timothy J. Kelly of U.S. District Court in Washington sentenced the man, William Chrestman, 51, of Olathe, Kan., to 55 months in prison. Mr. Chrestman pleaded guilty in October to felony charges of obstruction of an official proceeding and threatening a federal officer.

The judge also ordered Mr. Chrestman to pay $2,000 in restitution, and his prison sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said in a statement on Friday.

Mr. Chrestman was sentenced to less time in prison than the 63 months that prosecutors had recommended in a sentencing memo. They argued that Mr. Chrestman had “played a significant role during the riot due to his presence and conduct at pivotal moments during the day.”

Lawyers for Mr. Chrestman did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Friday. Prosecutors declined to comment.

Mr. Chrestman has been in jail since he was arrested in February 2021, and he will get credit for time served, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Mr. Chrestman was a member of the Kansas City chapter of the Proud Boys, and he made plans with other members to travel to Washington in January 2021 to show support for President Donald J. Trump and to protest against Congress for its certification of the Electoral College vote, prosecutors said.

After arriving in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, prosecutors said, Mr. Chrestman joined other Proud Boys members and marched toward the U.S. Capitol while shouting: “Whose streets? Our streets.”

While outside the Capitol, Mr. Chrestman shouted at Capitol Police officers who were preparing to fire nonlethal projectiles at the mob outside the building, according to an indictment.

While gesturing toward the ax handle he was carrying, Mr. Chrestman told the officers that if they fired at the rioters, he would “take” them “out,” prosecutors said.

Mr. Chrestman and a group of others eventually breached the Capitol building through the Senate Wing door, and once inside, Mr. Chrestman used his ax handle to prop open a door and help rioters move through the building, prosecutors said.

After the attack on the Capitol, Mr. Chrestman called someone and
“bragged” about his encounter with the police, prosecutors said.

“Dude, the cops were legitimately scared for their” lives, Mr. Chrestman said during a phone call that he recorded, according to court documents.

Mr. Chrestman is among more than 1,200 people who have been criminally charged from nearly all 50 states for their actions related to the Jan. 6 attack of the Capitol, according to to the Justice Department.

More than 400 have been charged with assaulting or trying to impede law enforcement.

More than 720 people have either been convicted or pleaded guilty and have received sentences ranging from a few days in jail to more than 20 years. The most common charge faced by rioters has been entering or remaining on restricted federal grounds.

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