Prosecutors on Monday dropped charges against Gregory Yetman, a former military police sergeant and National Guardsman who appeared in court for the first time since turning himself in following a manhunt for him in New Jersey last week.
Yetman turned himself in Friday and remained in custody through the weekend. Police had arrived days earlier to arrest him at his home in Helmetta, New Jersey, when they said he jumped a fence and fled into the woods behind his property.
After his first court appearance on Monday, prosecutors unsealed the case and confirmed that the 47-year-old faces several criminal charges, including an allegation that he attacked police on January 6 with a special device called the OC blast spray sprayed on officers defending the Capitol, 2021.
In addition to the charge of bodily harm, a arrest warrant notes that Yetman is also charged with obstruction of law enforcement during a riot, remaining in a restricted building or grounds, violent conduct on Capitol grounds and a separate charge of physical violence.
In 21-page format FBI affidavit As released Monday, a special agent noted that Yetman was identified to authorities with the help of open online sleuths known as “Sedition Hunters” who combed through footage from Jan. 6. By February 2021, detectives had spotted a man in footage apparently spraying a chemical substance on officers on the West Front of the Capitol. Detectives gave him the title “green heavy sprayer.”
The FBI originally interviewed Yetman on January 22, 2021, about a week after the FBI first received a tip from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command. The command noted that Yetman had posted on Facebook about his stay at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
During that interview in January, agents said they chatted with Yetman for only 10 minutes and he told them he went to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 but never entered the Capitol. However, he told officers that he had helped people remove chemical irritants from their eyes using water and that he fully supported law enforcement, the affidavit said.
Yetman also told agents in January 2021 that “anyone who enters the Capitol and attacks officers should be prosecuted,” the special agent wrote, adding that Yetman also shared with the FBI some photo and video footage he had taken personally recorded on his devices.
Prosecutors said those images appeared to show only part of the story and Yetman denied being involved in violence.
It was August 2022 when the FBI said it had sent an email to another agent who had interviewed Yetman more than a year ago. The email included a series of photos that appeared to show the former National Guardsman. After further investigation, including interviewing one of Yetman’s former colleagues, the FBI said it was able to obtain positive identification and the rest is history.
In the affidavit, the FBI states that it saw footage of Yetman appearing to pick up a chemical spray canister called MK-46H while in a restricted area before spraying a Metropolitan Police Department officer with it . According to court documents, those canisters were stolen from officers by rioters.
In the video, Yetman is allegedly seen using the spray can on officers for about 12 to 14 seconds, then throwing it away before walking back behind a wall to take more photos and videos.
It is unclear whether Yetman entered a plea Monday. It is also unclear whether he has hired a private attorney or is being represented by a public defender. A court reporter did not immediately respond to Law&Crime seeking comment.
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