Judge blocks release of Capitol riot suspect seen with zip ties as prosecutors eye possible sedition charges

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A federal judge has blocked the release of a man who allegedly brought zip ties into the Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection, as prosecutors say they’re considering charging the Tennessean with sedition for his role in the attack, according to court papers and officials.

Eric Munchel, a 30-year-old Nashville man, will remain behind bars as a result of U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell’s Sunday decision to suspend an order by a judge in Tennessee.

After testimony at a detention hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Frensley for the Middle District of Tennessee determined Friday that Munchel wasn’t a flight risk and didn’t pose harm to the public.

Eric Munchel, 30, is believed to be a man photographed carrying zip ties into the Senate Chamber during last week’s riot at the Capitol building, the FBI said. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

But Howell, who is seated in the District of Columbia, stayed the lower court’s order pending a review.

Federal prosecutors have argued that Munchel’s offenses are serious enough to detain him pending trial to ensure the community’s safety.

According to court records, an FBI search of Munchel’s home turned up the tactical gear he wore in the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, five pairs of plastic handcuffs, multiple weapons, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and a drum-style magazine.

Munchel is charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on the Capitol grounds, conspiracy and civil disorder. He faces up to 20 years if convicted.

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    This photo provided by the Metro Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tenn., shows Eric Gavelek Munchel. Munchel has been arrested in Tennessee in connection with the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (Metro Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tenn. via AP)((Metro Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tenn. via AP))

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    This photo provided by U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee shows an evidence photo showing assault rifles that were found during a search of Eric Munchel’s home. In a court filing ahead of a Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 detention hearing, prosecutors describe a search of Munchel’s home that turned up assault rifles, a sniper rifle with a tripod, shotguns, pistols, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and a drum-style magazine. Prosecutors also said they have reason to believe Munchel may have had weapons with him in Washington D.C. that he stashed outside the Capitol before entering. (U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee via AP)((U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee via AP))

In court papers filed Sunday, prosecutors said they had information that could lead to possible additional felony charges, such as sedition.

“The evidence amassed so far subjects the defendant to felonies beyond that with which he has been charged so far, including obstructing Congress, interstate travel in furtherance of rioting activity, sedition, and other offenses,” prosecutors wrote in arguing for Munchel to be held in custody.

WHAT ARE SEDITION CHARGES?

They continued: “These offenses carry substantial penalties, which incentivizes flight and evading law enforcement – a thought that the defendant appears to have contemplated by virtue of avoiding his residence and workplace, terminating his Facebook account, and leaving his cell phone with an associate.”

Prosecutors have said Munchel traveled to Washington with his mother, Lisa Eisenhart, who has also been charged in the Capitol riot. The two participated in PresidentTrump’s fiery “Stop the Steal” rally in which the then-president exhorted the crowd to “fight like hell” and noted they would be “peacefully” marching to the Capitol.

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Court documents allege Munchel went into the Senate chamber just minutes after the chamber had been evacuated.

Munchel “perceived himself to be a revolutionary, in the mold of those who overthrew the British government in the American Revolution,” according to court filings. He was “dressed for combat” with “combat boots, military fatigues, a tactical vest, gloves, and a gaiter that covered all of his face except for his eyes,” documents state. He also wore a stun gun on his hip and mounted a cellphone to his chest to record events.

Fox News’ Louis Casiano and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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