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St. Petersburg man gets 3½ years in prison for role in Jan. 6 Capitol riots

Federal authorities say Zachary Johnson, a member of the Proud Boys organization, will serve three years of supervised release once out of prison.
 
Zachary Johnson of St. Petersburg wears protective goggles outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in a screenshot from a video released by the U.S. House Jan. 6th Committee.
Zachary Johnson of St. Petersburg wears protective goggles outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in a screenshot from a video released by the U.S. House Jan. 6th Committee. [ U.S. House January 6th Committee ]
Published Dec. 1, 2023|Updated Dec. 1, 2023

A St. Petersburg man who federal authorities say is a member of the Proud Boys organization has been sentenced to 3½ years in prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol.

Zachary Johnson, 33, was arrested in January 2022 and pleaded guilty in August to a charge of assaulting, resisting or impeding law enforcement officers. His prison sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release, according to a news alert from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Columbia.

Federal authorities said Johnson went to Washington, D.C., and met with about 100 other Proud Boys members at the Washington Monument on the morning of the riots.

“Johnson wore a ballistic plate carrier and carried a mouth guard and goggles,” the news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office states. “Those around him were dressed similarly, including some who carried pepper spray on their vests.”

Zachary Johnson of St. Petersburg in a 2016 prison photo.
Zachary Johnson of St. Petersburg in a 2016 prison photo. [ Florida Department of Corrections ]

Johnson marched with the group to the Capitol grounds, arriving shortly before 1 p.m.

“The group charged through the barricades and was among the first to breach the restricted perimeter,” the news release states.

Related: Who are Tampa Bay’s accused Jan. 6 rioters, really?

He spent two hours on the West Plaza, then went with other Proud Boys members into the Lower West Terrace Tunnel, where officers had formed a line behind a set of glass doors to stop rioters from getting inside the building.

“Soon thereafter, numerous rioters entered the Tunnel and attacked those police officers,” the news release states, and Johnson joined them “in a collective push against the established law enforcement lines, including, at times, rocking together in a coordinated ‘heave-ho’ fashion.”

Rioters stole some shields from officers and passed them out of the tunnel, but police were able to push the rioters away, the release states. Johnson then joined another effort to overrun police.

“While outside the Tunnel, Johnson helped pass a sledgehammer and a large spray canister containing a lachrymatory agent up to other rioters closer to the entrance. As Johnson intended, those rioters then sprayed the officers with the agent, further assaulting the officers protecting the Capitol,” the news release states.

Federal authorities say more than 1,200 people have been charged in the riots so far.