Pennsylvania man pleads guilty to striking officer with flagpole during Capitol riot

Prosecutors say a Pennsylvania man pleaded guilty to using a flagpole to strike a police officer several times during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. 

According to a Department of Justice press released, 71-year-old Howard C. Richardson entered the restricted area of the U.S. Capitol by pushing past metal barriers and police officers that were attempting to keep the crowd away. 

Richardson, a Montgomery County resident, was carrying a flagpole that he used to strike a Metropolitan Police Department officer three times, according to court documents. Richardson allegedly hit the officer with enough force to break the pole, according to investigators. 

Authorities arrested Richardson in Philadelphia last November. He pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a felony charge of assaulting law enforcement officers. 

Prosecutors say Richardson faces a maximum of eight years in prison and a fine of up to $250k. He is scheduled to be sentenced in late August. 

In the 15 months since the Jan. 6 insurrection, nearly 800 people have been arrested in nearly all 50 state for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol that stunted a joint session of Congress to certify the presidential election for Joe Biden.