Local News

Garner man charged in US Capitol riot

Posted February 1, 2021 12:31 p.m. EST
Updated February 1, 2021 8:50 p.m. EST

— The FBI arrested a Garner man Monday morning in connection with the riot last month at the U.S. Capitol.

Stephen Maury Baker, 33, of 265 Mariah Towns Way, was taken into custody without incident on charges of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority.

A mob supporting then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress met to certify President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory. The House and the Senate had to suspend activities for several hours as lawmakers and staff hid in secure locations.

According to federal court documents, Baker livestreamed the riot on YouTube under the name "Stephen Ignoramus," and various media outlets showed portions of his stream, which went on for more than three hours.

"I was inside for like an hour, dude. I was one of like the last 10 people in there," Baker told someone while he was streaming, according to a court document.

He pointed out different far-right groups at the Capitol, including the Red Elephants and the Oath Keepers, and he showed his face on the video at least twice.

"Thank you for coming everyone. That was so epic. Historic day," federal authorities quote Baker as saying to his YouTube audience.

A Capitol Police officer and a protester were killed in the melee, and authorities said three other people died from medical emergencies.

At least three people told FBI agents that Baker was "Stephen Ignoramus," according to a court document, and one told agents that Baker was known to promote conspiracy theories and mock minorities.

One person provided the FBI with a link to Baker's online profile as a guitar, bass, piano and drum teacher at Middle C Music, in Washington, D.C.

Music store owner Myrna Sislen said she was stunned to learn that Baker was streaming the Capitol riot and now faces criminal charges. It was even more devastating to his students, she said.

"He is a brilliant teacher – not a good teacher, a brilliant teacher," Sislen said "They were heartbroken. I had to break the hearts of 40 kids, and it was horrible."

The store's lessons have been virtual during the coronavirus pandemic, but none of the students' families now want to continue with Baker as their teacher.

"The whole thing is just tragic, absolutely tragic and stupid. 'Ignoramus' is an apt pseudonym for this guy," Sislen said. "I think what’s the most tragic about this is the ripple effect of this thing. You have somebody doing this action, and how does it ripple and go back into the community."

Sislen said she keeps political talk out of the music store and lessons and never knew of Baker's ideology.

"He’s been here for many, many years, and none of the parents had ever seen that side at all. He was able to compartmentalize," she said.

After a brief court hearing Monday, Baker was released pending a Thursday hearing, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Meyers ordered him not to contact any elected federal officials, visit Washington, D.C., or possess any firearms while out of jail.

Baker couldn't be reached for comment, and a WRAL News crew was ordered off the property after visiting his Garner home.

"I was appalled. I was shocked probably like every other American. Can this really be happening in our country? It was a sad day," said Michael Clark, who lives in the same townhouse complex as Baker but doesn't know him. "It’s just kind of concerning to know that someone this close by was part of such a horrific day and participated, allegedly. That’s concerning."

More than 160 people have been charged so far in the riot, including a Pilot Mountain man who was arrested on Jan. 19.

In the wake of the riot, the House voted to impeach Trump on a charge of inciting an insurrection. The Senate is expected to begin a trial on the charge next week.