SHALER, Pa. (KDKA) – Pennsylvania ranks a close second to Florida in the number of people arrested for their actions at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, and while some have been sentenced to terms of less than a few months, the government is treating others more seriously.
One of those is former U.S. Army Ranger and Shaler teacher Robert Morss, accused of organizing rioters to break into the Capitol building. A federal judge just denied his pre-trial release.
Who is Robert Morss? According to his attorney, he is a patriot who graduated from Penn State and volunteered as a U.S. Army Ranger to serve three tours in Afghanistan, returning home to teach history at Shaler Middle School.
“We’re talking about a young man who has been a considerable credit to his community and his country,” said his attorney John Kiyonaga.
But to federal prosecutors, he is an insurrectionist who came to D.C. ready for battle. They produced videos and pictures of him pushing and pulling police taunting them, saying: “You guys are betraying us. You get paid enough to betray your people?”
Prosecutors say he wrested a shield from one and used his military training, organizing others, shouting: “Hey, everyone with a shield, back up and organize! Make a shield wall! Organize now and make a shield wall.”READ MORE: One Year Later: Revisiting The Events Of The Jan. 6 Capitol Riots
He can be seen in one slide, prosecutors say, directing a rioter to blackout a surveillance camera and was part of heave-ho action that sandwiched a distressed officer in a door jam.
“To hold him personally responsible is not warranted by the facts. There’s no indication he knew of the travails of that officer,” Kiyonaga said.
Attorney Kiyonaga says Morss was a good distance from the officer and the overall picture painted by prosecutors is overblown, that Morss used none of his special training but may have become an impromptu leader of those around him.
“What I see is veterans being castigated, being set aside and being treated more harshly than people who have never served in the military, which is unfair and morally reprehensible to me,” he said.
But the judge denied pretrial release and has ordered Morss remain in jail until his trial in August. His attorney calls this an injustice, saying he poses no threat to anyone.MORE NEWS: Judge Denies Release Of Alleged Capitol Rioter Robert Morss
“He should be free so he can assist properly in the development of his own defense so he can be prepared for trial. He will have been locked up for 14 months before this goes to trial without being convicted of anything and that is not right,” he said.