On Thursday, a Shelby Township man became the third person from Michigan to be charged in connection with the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
James Mels, 56, was formally charged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He did not have much to say in court, but he did tell investigators that he found like-minded people on radical online platforms and went to Washington, D.C. with them on Jan. 6.
According to court documents, the FBI received a tip that Mels was at the Capitol during the attack. In an interview with the FBI, Mels told investigators that he entered the Capitol to speak with an officer and give them a copy of the Constitution to “have his voice heard.”
Investigators say they are basing some of their case on what they discovered on Mels’ phone.
After searching the man’s phone, the FBI found several photos from inside the Capitol, including a selfie of Mels. The 56-year-old man said he traveled to D.C. for the Jan. 6 rally with 11 others after meeting them in online forums -- which were used to spread the lie that the 2020 election was stolen, and included language common to election conspiracies. Mels said he was led inside the Capitol by a friend that day.
Mels was formally charged with knowingly entering a restricted building, in addition to violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
This is not the first time that Mels has been accused of political violence. In 2016, the man posted a now-deleted photo of President Obama hanging from a noose with the caption, “Let’s get to work on these traitors.”
2 other Michigan men charged
Mels is now the third Michigan resident who has been charged in connection with the deadly insurrection.
Karl Dresch, 40, of Calumet, was also recently charged with violent entry at the U.S. Capitol. Dresch posted on social media from inside the Capitol on Jan. 6. He was denied bond.
The third man, 30-year-old Michael Foy from Wixom, was also charged for his role in the Jan. 6 attack. Foy faces severla charges after police body cam footage captured the former Marine repeatedly beating a Capitol police officer with a hockey stick.
A federal magistrate reviewed that tape and determined she would not grant Foy bond. Prosecutors maintain he was one of the most violent offenders during the riot. Photos were also found on Foy’s phone of him inside the Capitol.
Mels is waiting to potentially be transferred to a federal court in Washington, D.C. for a portion of his trial, like many others who were charged in the Capitol riot. He was released on a $10,000 bond and will be allowed to live with his wife in Shelby Township.