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Court documents: Sandpoint man accused of participating in Capitol insurrection refused to leave elevator

UPDATED: Fri., Feb. 26, 2021

Surveillance footage from the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, shows who investigators believe is Michael Pope, circled in red on the left, and his brother William, circled in blue on the right, during an occupation by supporters of President Donald Trump. Michael Pope traveled from Spokane to participate in the protest-turned-insurrection, investigators allege.   (FBI)
Surveillance footage from the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, shows who investigators believe is Michael Pope, circled in red on the left, and his brother William, circled in blue on the right, during an occupation by supporters of President Donald Trump. Michael Pope traveled from Spokane to participate in the protest-turned-insurrection, investigators allege.  (FBI)

The Sandpoint man accused of participating in the unlawful occupation of the U.S. Capitol in early January with his brother was identified as a participant when his image appeared on social media and television, according to court documents recently unsealed.

Michael Pope, 32, flew from the Spokane International Airport and met his brother, William, in Philadelphia the morning before a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump interrupted the authorization of the 2020 election results, a complaint filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., said. The brothers were identified by witnesses who recognized them in television coverage of the event aired on MSNBC. William Pope posted photos and video of himself and his brother on social media during the occupation.

Michael Pope appeared in District Court in Idaho on Feb. 12, although he did not enter a plea to the seven federal charges leveled against him, including a felony charge that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He was released from custody after turning himself in. His attorney could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

The complaint was filed in Washington, D.C., and remained sealed for several days. It was filed in the nation’s capital under a case number different from the one published on court records in Idaho.

The 10-page document alleges the brothers entered the building, where they are seen carrying American flags amid a crowd that attempted to break its way into both chambers of Congress. William Pope, of Topeka, Kansas, can be seen in a YouTube video that later shows the fatal police shooting of Ashli Babbitt outside the Speaker’s Lobby.

William Pope wrote a message to the FBI informing them of his intention to turn himself in for participating in the events. He was brought in for an interview, according to court records, where he told investigators he and his brother had planned to attend the protest and then camp for several days along the coast before Michael Pope was to fly back into Spokane from South Carolina.

Surveillance video shows Michael Pope entering an elevator near what’s known as the carriage entrance to the Senate chamber, according to the complaint. It appears in the video that he’s forcefully removed from the elevator by officers, investigators wrote.

William Pope said his brother intended to return from the trip several days after the protest, but “after seeing the gravity of the situation,” Michael Pope attempted to rent a car to drive back to the Inland Northwest. Michael Pope instead caught a return flight, again out of Philadelphia, after Jan. 6.

No court dates have been scheduled for Michael Pope, according to electronic court records.

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