MACON, Ga. — A federal judge found probable cause Thursday for the charges against William McCall Calhoun Jr., a Georgia man charged with storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 who allegedly kicked in the door to Nancy Pelosi's office.
Calhoun, himself an attorney from Americus, Ga., about an hour and a half southwest of Macon, was arrested on Jan. 15 in connection to the riots in D.C. earlier this month.
Federal prosecutors will now have to present the matter to a grand jury, who would decide whether or not to indict Calhoun. The charges prosecutors filed in a federal complaint include entering a restricted building or grounds; violent entry or disorderly conduct; and tampering with a witness, victim or an informant.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles H. Weigle also denied Calhoun release, ordering him to continue in detention until a possible indictment. The judge delivered a remarkable admonishment of Calhoun in denying him the ability to move freely pending indictment.
"What we have, first of all, is the defendant's own statements, made publicly on social media, stupidly, which revealed that he has been... seduced by a dangerous and violent ideology that considers the United States to be in a state of civil war - anyone that voted for a Democrat to be worthy of execution, there's government officials and agents that are part of a 'deep state' and need to be opposed by so-called patriots - the language used in those posts is extremely violent."
The posts detailed in court involved violent rants against perceived enemies, such as Democrats, supposed communists and Black Lives Matter activists.
"We are going to kill every last communist that stands in Trump's way," one said, according to testimony by an FBI agent. Others mentioned going "door to door" and "slaughtering" enemies of the cause.
Judge Weigle said he could not find a way to be comfortable with the idea of releasing Calhoun, saying he would be afraid for his own life knowing how radical his anti-government beliefs run.
For the justice system to function, the judge said, "we don't rely entirely on the force of arms, but on the symbolism, the sacredness of the law."
"And the government of the U.S. and the Capitol Building is the pinnacle of that. You and your friends went into there and tore the place to shreds, killed five people including a police officer. You showed that you were willing, that there was nothing that would hold you back except force. That's why we had 25,000 national guards members at our inauguration yesterday, a shame and a scandal for our entire country.
"And if you don't respect the Capitol Police, you don't respect the Capitol Building of the United States, I don't have any reason to believe you'll have any respect for what I tell you to do."
The judge added: "I have no comfort in sending a probation officer to your house to meet with you. I would be afraid for their life, I would be afraid for my life with what you've said and what you've done."
The proceedings mostly focused on Calhoun's social media posts leading up to and on the day of the riots, which resulted in the startling breach of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob have been associated with the deaths of at least five people, one of them a Capitol Police officer and one of them a Kennesaw woman.
Many of the posts have been previously reported, and included him bragging that he was among the “the first of us who got upstairs kicked in Nancy Pelosi’s office door and pushed down the hall toward her inner sanctum." The post said that if the Speaker was around, she "probably would have been torn into little pieces."
On the day of the riots, Calhoun wrote on Facebook that the "American People proved that we have the power."
"We physically took control of the Capitol Building in a hand to hand hostile takeover," he wrote. "We occupied the Capitol and shut down the Government – we shut down their stolen election shenanigans.”
The preliminary hearing against Calhoun was held in the federal Georgia Middle District court in Macon, where he had been arrested at his sister's home.
According to the FBI agent who testified, Calhoun was arrested with several weapons and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition at the home, though he is not alleged to have brought those to Washington.
Calhoun's defense attorney, arguing for him to be released to live with his sister pre-trial, focused on the fact that he had not committed any individual harm to another person, despite the rhetoric in his posts.
His sister testified and said she would provide a "safe and secure" residence for Calhoun until he is possibly indicted. The defense lawyer argued that, as an attorney, Calhoun did not pose a flight risk as he will need to have his name cleared in order to continue with his profession. He also said Calhoun has prostate cancer.
Prosecutors cited his violent rhetoric and actions at the Capitol in arguing he remained an ongoing threat and should continue to be detained. Judge Weigle agreed.
“Today, the Court granted the Government’s detention motion, finding a serious risk that Calhoun would endanger the community or flee. Our office, alongside the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, will continue to work to identify, arrest, and prosecute those who traveled from Middle Georgia and participated in the attack on the U.S. Capitol," Acting U.S. Attorney Peter Leary said in a statement.