Western NC Trump supporter in pic with police attacked J6 to plead

A plea deal is set for a Western North Carolina man, who was pictured confronting a District of Columbia police officer made famous by his emotional testimony of being assaulted by Trump supporters during the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

Nathan Baer, 44, of Macon County, is scheduled for an April 5 plea agreement hearing, according to the docket for U.S. District Court in D.C. Baer had earlier lived in Starnes Cove west of Asheville, but recent records showed him in Macon, a county bordering Georgia.

The Citizen Times reached out March 21 to Baer’s federal public defender Eugene Jeen-Young Kim Ohm.

Initially arrested June 26, 2023, on six alleged offenses, Baer was indicted July 19 by a grand jury on four misdemeanors and one felony:

  • Obstructing law enforcement during the commission of a civil disorder, a felony.
  • Entering and remaining on restricted grounds.
  • Disorderly and disruptive conduct on restricted grounds.
  • Disorderly conduct in a Capitol building.
  • Committing an act of violence on Capitol grounds.

Baer’s arrest came more than two years after the attack in which supporters of former President Donald Trump attempted to stop the transfer of power to newly elected Democratic President Joe Biden. Court documents said tips from members of the public who saw Baer in pictures of the attack helped identify him.

One photo had been widely publicized because it showed him next to Metropolitan D.C. Police Officer Michael Fanone who testified before the special Jan. 6 congressional committee.

Fanone, who was off duty, self-deployed in response to radio calls for assistance from other officers, he said in emotional testimony to the special committee. He was assaulted by rioters, dragged down the Capitol steps, beaten with pipes, stunned with a Taser, sprayed with chemical irritants and threatened with his own gun, Fanone said. He suffered burns, a concussion, traumatic brain injury and had a heart attack and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, according to his testimony. He retired and now works in part as a contributor for CNN.

In a June 23, 2023, interview with the Citizen Times, Fanone said that though Baer appears to be confronting and even touching him in the photo, he did not believe he was one of those who assaulted him.

Fanone’s name came up earlier in another WNC Jan. 6 defendant’s case. Lewis Easton Cantwell of Waynesville said he believed a police officer he helped during the attack was Fanone. But prosecutors said there was no evidence that was true. Canwell received one of the harshest sentences among those convicted in the attack.

Other WNC residents charged with attempting to illegally keep Trump in power include:

Mark Meadows, former Trump chief of staff and ex-WNC congressman, who is facing election interference charges in Georgia. He was also charged federally, though it is believed he has entered into a deal to testify in exchange for immunity.

Former Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, who had homes in Biltmore Park and Biltmore Forest, pleaded guilty in the Georgia election interference case. She is widely believed to be one of the unnamed co-conspirators in the federal case.

Convicted were Thomas Gronek of Asheville, who went to Washington with a rifle; Cleveland Grover Meredith, who brought an assault rifle and 2,500 rounds of ammunition, saying he would shoot former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the head; and Cantwell, who pleaded guilty to obstructing officers during the riot.

Alan St. Onge of Brevard entered a plea deal, admitting guilt to his role in the Capitol attack. His sentencing is set for May 17. While out on court-ordered release St. Onge was arrested in Asheville and charged with punching a woman in the throat in a downtown bar. He is set to appear April 17 in Buncombe County District Court.

More: Ex-Asheville attorney, philanthropist Powell said to be co-conspirator in Trump indictment

Madison Cawthorn’s former lawyer who defended him against insurrection charges drops suit

Joel Burgess has lived in WNC for more than 20 years, covering politics, government and other news. He’s written award-winning stories on topics ranging from gerrymandering to police use of force. Got a tip? Contact Burgess at jburgess@citizentimes.com, 828-713-1095 or on Twitter @AVLreporter. Please help support this type of journalism with a subscription to the Citizen Times.

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