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Edward E. Hemenway II

Winchester resident Edward E. Hemenway II confessed to federal authorities that he was inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 attempted coup and said he and his cousin got a handshake from a Capitol police officer.

“Hemenway similarly recalled the officer shaking Hemenway’s hand and Hemenway said, ‘Sorry,”’ according to a criminal complaint updated by the Department of Justice on Monday. “The officer replied, ‘It’s your house now, man,’ and gave Hemenway a half-hug.”

Hemenway, 38, of the 900 block of East Cork Street, was arrested on Jan. 15 in Charlottesville. He was charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building, disorderly conduct in a restricted building, entry and disorderly conduct at the grounds and in a Capitol building and parading, demonstrating and picketing in a Capitol building. If convicted, he faces up to a year imprisonment on each charge.

Hemenway, however, is not accused of taking part in the insurrection violence. Unlike the officer Hemenway allegedly encountered, many officers fought with the mob.

A Capitol police officer and four civilians, one of whom was trampled by people as they forced their way into the Capitol, were killed. About 140 officers were injured as the mostly white mob attacked them with fists, flags and hockey sticks and temporarily blinded them with bear spray.

Hemenway said he was motivated by former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the presidential election. Hemenway was among the thousands who attended a rally before the riot, when Trump said Democrats stole the election from him. “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump said before telling supporters to march to the Capitol, where Congress was counting Electoral College votes to certify Joe Biden’s victory.

The complaint, written by FBI Special Agent Jeniffer Whittaker, said the investigation of Hemenway began on Jan. 7 after an unknown caller contacted the FBI. The caller said Robert L. Bauer, Hemenway’s cousin, and Jenny Bauer, Bauer’s wife, had posted photos on Facebook of themselves in the Capitol during the insurrection.

In a Jan. 8 interview with FBI agents, Bauer said he and his wife visited Hemenway in Winchester from Jan. 1-5, then stayed at a hotel in Washington, D.C., to be closer to the rally. Hemenway joined them the night before the rally. Bauer said he was responding to Trump’s call to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol and admitted to entering the Capitol. He said there were no signs saying he couldn’t enter and thought it was OK.

“It became apparent to the agents who interviewed Bauer that Hemenway also entered the U.S. Capitol building with Bauer, but Bauer was reluctant to say so,” Whittaker wrote. “On Jan. 8, 2021, Hemenway called the agents and admitted that he was with Bauer inside the U.S. Capitol.”

The complaint includes a Facebook photo of Bauer and Hemenway inside the Capitol. They are wearing camouflage Trump 2020 caps, smiling and flashing middle fingers to the camera.

Hemenway said he linked up with a group entering the Capitol doors. He said he could have peeled away but chose to enter and saw a “Do Not Enter” sign as he walked in.

“Hemenway explained that he entered the Capitol out of ‘curiosity’ and ‘stupidity.’ He said that he did not know Congress was in session on Jan. 6, 2021, but he did know they were certifying the Electoral College vote,” Whittaker wrote. “He also knew that Vice President Pence was going to announce the Electoral College vote. Hemenway said that he knows being inside the U.S. Capitol under those circumstances was wrong.”

Whittaker said video and photos from Bauer’s phone show he and Hemenway were in the Capitol Crypt, the room below the Rotunda. Hemenway was released on his own recognizance after being arraigned in U.S. District Court in Washington, according to Renata Cooper, executive assistant U.S. Attorney for external affairs in the D.C. district.

Decisions to release defendants on recognizance are based on the severity of the charges against them as well as if they have a criminal record and ties to the community. Hemenway is due back in court on May 12.

Hemenway is one of at least two local insurrection suspects. The other is Thomas Edward Caldwell, a 65-year-old Berryville resident and retired Navy lieutenant commander who is accused of being a member of the Oath Keepers, a right-wing extremist group.

Caldwell faces more serious charges than Hemenway. They include conspiracy to impede or injure a police officer, violent entry and destruction of evidence. Authorities say a “kill list” naming an elected official and a gun shaped like a cellphone were found in a raid on Caldwell’s home.

No one answered the door at Hemenway’s home on Tuesday. A neighbor said he has lived there at least two years and keeps to himself.

— Contact Evan Goodenow at egoodenow@winchesterstar.com