An Ocean Beach man is one of the latest to be charged with violently entering the United States Capitol in the Jan.6 uprising, telling investigators he believes Donald Trump is the real president and that his compatriot San Diegan had been killed by police during the rampage – Ashli Babbitt – never existed, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Friday in federal court in San Diego.
Philip James Weisbecker was arrested on October 21 following a months-long investigation into his alleged involvement in the insurgency, after two informants contacted the FBI and sent him photos and CNN screenshots placing it in the Capitol building, according to Compliant States. A similar Fox News screenshot of him appears on his Facebook page with the comment: “If you want to know the truth … just ask.”
Weisbecker, who works as a freelance construction estimator, is charged with three counts: unlawful entry into a restricted building; engaging in disorderly or disruptive behavior in a small building; and violent entry and disorderly conduct on the Capitol grounds. The case will be tried in Washington, DC
Weisbecker could not be reached for comment by phone on Wednesday, and his designated defense attorney did not respond to an email or voicemail requesting comment.
He was one of more than 650 people arrested in connection with the attack, including a resident of Coronado. Over 90 have pleaded guilty.
Weisbecker has been open with federal authorities about his presence on Capitol Hill, as he was flagged for questioning on four occasions in February and March as he crossed from Mexico to the United States at the Tecate Port of Entry, according to the complaint.
In his interviews with Customs and Border Protection, as well as his Facebook posts, Weisbecker echoed several far-right conspiracy theories regarding the 2020 presidential election and defended the “patriots” who stormed the country. Capitol as nonviolent despite five deaths and many injuries reported, the complaint states.
He told Customs and Border Protection that he traveled to Washington for Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally as a citizen reporter to show the world the truth, adding that he had not flown over the country to watch from afar.
He said he researched the facts of voter fraud – which Trump laid out at the rally – and came to his own conclusion that all of the “statistics” indicate that Trump is still president. The complaint does not specify what statistics it is referring to, but courts across the country have found no evidence of widespread election fraud.
Weisbecker admitted to entering the Capitol through a back entrance, claiming police pushed aside the barricades and left the crowds inside. He walked across Capitol Hill alongside a videographer from InfoWars – a far-right conspiracy theory news website – and posed for a selfie under Abraham Lincoln law in the Rotunda.
He ended up at the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – he insisted he hadn’t taken anything out of the California Democrat’s office – and then sat on a couch outside the door.
In a video clip, investigators say a man believed to be Weisbecker – wearing a red and white floral Hawaiian shirt under a dark sports coat – is seen among a group in a bedroom hallway, along with another person in the background heard saying, “Bring him out,” according to the complaint.
Weisbecker called the uprising a peaceful protest and claimed that no one had died, including Babbitt, also from Ocean Beach.
Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran and CEO of a pool service company in Spring Valley, led a crowd when she was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer . She had tried to break through a series of doors leading to the President’s Hall, a hallway that connects to the Chamber of the Chamber.
But Weisbecker told agents she didn’t exist because he knows everyone in the Ocean Beach area, and when he asked around, none of his friends claimed to know her no. more, according to the complaint. He asked where Babbitt’s funeral took place and said it wasn’t in San Diego, which means she wasn’t from here. He also claimed that Babbitt was not his real last name.
The comments echo conspiracy theories that began circulating online shortly after the shooting, with some calling his death a “false flag.” For many others in ultra-conservative circles, she has been hailed as a martyrdom.
Babbitt’s husband pursued police, seeking records related to the shooting.
FBI agents investigating Weisbecker have gathered other evidence placing him in Washington and on Capitol Hill, including air travel, cell phone tower data, and searches of his cell phone and social media accounts, according to the report. complaint.
Weisbecker’s frequent trips to Mexico – where he told agents he was visiting friends and helping design a ranch – left him open to scrutiny any time he returned to the United States. around January 6, calling the officers “communist pig”, “fascist” and other derogatory names.
When CBP searched his car during its last border check on March 3, officers found an orange pellet gun without a safety tip, which looked very much like a real handgun, the complaint says. Weisbecker told CBP he bought it in Hawaii and used it to shoot roosters.
After his initial appearance in federal court in San Diego on Monday, Weisbecker was allowed to remain in detention on his own recognizance, agreeing not to travel to Mexico and to do all of his future court hearings.
Coronado resident Jeffrey “Alex” Smith, indicted in a similar complaint, is expected to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor related to the Capitol Riot on Thursday.