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DC man faces 5 years in prison for attacking police on Jan. 6

Mark Ponder, 56, of Northwest, pleaded guilty Friday to a felony count of assault with a dangerous weapon.

WASHINGTON — A D.C. man could face more than five years in prison at sentencing in July after pleading guilty Friday to assaulting police during the Capitol riot.

Mark Ponder, 56, of Northwest D.C., entered his plea of guilty before U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan to one felony count of assaulting police with a dangerous weapon. At sentencing on July 18, he’ll face an estimated guideline range of 57-71 months in prison – in part because of a lengthy criminal history that includes a 2007 bank robbery and a prior conviction of domestic assault.

Ponder, who has been incarcerated since his arrest last year, appeared in court in a dark green inmate’s jumpsuit. His hearing got off to a rocky start when he told Chutkan the jail hadn’t tested him for COVID-19 before his appearance. Ponder, like many Jan. 6 defendants held in the D.C. and Alexandria jails, has declined the COVID-19 vaccine.

Before accepting his plea, Chutkan read through the statement of offense. Line by line, Ponder agreed that he assaulted police at least three times on Jan. 6. That included striking an officer with a stick so hard it shattered against his riot shield, rearming himself for another attack and then “wildly swinging” a pole at a line of police trying to reestablish order on the Capitol grounds.

Officers eventually tackled Ponder to the ground on Jan. 6 and placed him under arrest, but had to release him after they were called to reinforce the front lines. Ponder then left the grounds for a short time before returning. He eventually left for good once tear gas was deployed.

Ponder will remain in custody at the Alexandria Jail while he awaits sentencing. He will receive credit for the more than a year he’s already spent behind bars. In addition to prison time, he will also have to pay $2,000 in restitution for damage to the U.S. Capitol and could face up to three years of supervised release.

We're tracking all of the arrests, charges and investigations into the January 6 assault on the Capitol. Sign up for our Capitol Breach Newsletter here so that you never miss an update.

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