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Society

2 Brothers From Kansas, Idaho Arrested in Capitol Riots

February 13, 2021

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Two brothers from Kansas and Idaho were arrested Friday on federal charges stemming from the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, the FBI said.

William Pope, of Topeka, Kansas, and Michael Pope, of Sandpoint, Idaho, were arrested on federal charges of obstruction or impeding any official proceeding, causing civil disorder and other counts. An affidavit detailing the allegations against them was not immediately available.

William Pope, 35, was arrested without incident and was being held without bond in the Shawnee County jail. He did not immediately return a phone message or respond to an email to his Kansas State account seeking comment.

In 2019, William Pope ran unsuccessfully for the Topeka City Council. As of October 2020, he was listed as a Republican precinct committee member in Shawnee County. He also worked for 10 months as an entry-level auditor for the Legislative Division of Post Audit, the state’s official auditing agency, from November 2018 until August 2019. The division’s head, Justin Stowe, said Friday that William Pope left the job to participate in the Kansas State doctoral program.

A committee of the Kansas Legislature oversees the Division of Post Audit’s work, but it is a nonpartisan agency, and Stowe said it does not allow its staff to be involved in political activity. Stowe said division staff had not seen any indications of William Pope’s political views while he worked there.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that William Pope acknowledged to the newspaper that he was among the thousands of people who stormed the U.S. Capitol, and he was caught on video inside the building.

“I was at the Capitol to exercise my first amendment rights and remain loyal to the United States of America,” William Pope said.

He said he was not violent during the riot, and he reported himself to the FBI a few days later because “it was the right thing to do.”

William Pope was also an adjunct instructor at Fort Hays State University from January 2016 until May 2020. And he was listed as a doctoral student in Kansas State University’s communication studies department as of Friday.

Both schools issued statements Friday saying they condemned the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Kansas State spokeswoman Michelle Geering said the university is conducting an internal review and will not comment on future personnel actions.

Fort Hays State University spokesman Scott Cason said the school was not aware of any instance where William Pope’s political views were included in his teaching, Cason said.

Michael Pope surrendered to FBI agents in Idaho and was taken into custody without incident. His initial appearance was scheduled for Friday afternoon via Zoom at the U.S. District Court in Boise, Idaho.

Two other Kansas men who were among five members of the Proud Boys whose arrests were announced Thursday made their initial court appearances on Friday.

William Chrestman, 47, of Olathe, will remain in custody until Wednesday when a federal judge will hear arguments on whether he should be released. Prosecutors argued in a court filing that Chrestman, an Army veteran, was a flight risk and a danger to society if he is released, The Kansas City Star reported.

“Releasing Defendant Chrestman to rejoin their fold and plan their next attack poses a potentially catastrophic risk of danger to the community,” the filing said.

A second Olathe man, Christopher Kuehne, 47, was released on his own recognizance but ordered to be on home detention and wear an electric monitor. Kuehne, a retired Marine Corps officer, told the judge that he is being treated at the Department of Veterans Affairs for PTSD and a traumatic brain injury.

Kuehne’s attorney, Robin Fowler, said in a statement Friday that Kuehne was in the Marines for more than 20 years and won several honors, including a Purple Heart for his service in Iraq and elsewhere.

“He looks forward to addressing the allegations against him at the appropriate time and in the appropriate forum, which he expects will be in federal court in Washington, D.C.,” she said.

By JOHN HANNA and MARGARET STAFFORD Associated Press

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