A newly-elected Republican lawmaker in West Virginia resigned Saturday after he was arrested for trespassing into the U.S. Capitol in a mob of Donald Trump supporters hoping to halt president-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Derrick Evans, 35, chronicled the riot Wednesday on Facebook Live, capturing the moment the crowd cracked open the Capitol’s doors and he crossed over the threshold.
“We’re in! We’re in!” he exclaimed in a video he later deleted. “Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!”
Evans was among dozens arrested for crimes related to the break-in. On Friday, he was charged with two federal misdemeanors, unlawfully entering restricted grounds and violent entry and disorderly conduct, and taken into custody, according to the Department of Justice.
Some people traced to the violent attack via online sleuths and law enforcement have faced repercussions, including being publicly named, fired and arrested. Evans is also among the most high-profile figures in the crowd who stormed into the building to be identified and resign.
Evans ended his short tenure with a one-sentence resignation letter to Gov. Jim Justice, a Republican. He was sworn into the House of Delegates in December.
Shortly after news of his resignation, the word “VACANT” appeared in place of his name and headshot on the House roster.
After resigning, Evans expressed hope for “healing” and unity as “One Nation, Under God,” in a statement shared with local outlets, but he did not admit wrongdoing. Evans and his attorney did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.
“I take full responsibility for my actions, and deeply regret any hurt, pain or embarrassment I may have caused my family, friends, constituents and fellow West Virginians,” he said in a statement, according to local outlets. “I hope this action I take today can remove any cloud of distraction from the state Legislature, so my colleagues can get to work in earnest building a brighter future for our state.”
Evans encouraged others to break into the Capitol in his videos posted Wednesday, according to his arrest warrant, shouting, “There we go! Open the door!” and “Move! Move! Move!”
In another video, Evans said, “They’re making an announcement right now saying if Pence betrays us you better get your mind right because we’re storming the building,” according to the arrest report. He then laughed and added, “I’m just the messenger, so don’t be hating on me. I’m just telling you what I’m hearing right now on the ground.”
Vice President Mike Pence was rushed away by federal agents as the mob descended into the Capitol to disrupt the count of the electoral college vote that he was presiding over.
Before he arrived in the District of Columbia, Evans posted memes on Facebook encouraging others to participate in the Jan. 6 event, according to federal officials.
In a meme Evans posted on Dec. 28, a photo of President Trump was captioned “FIGHT FOR TRUMP JANUARY 6 We’re Comin’.”
“Two bus loads of Patriots from WV, KY, and Ohio are loaded up and heading to DC. #StopTheSteal,” he wrote Jan. 5, according to the FBI.
An attorney for Evans, John Bryan, denied his client did anything illegal, arguing that Evans is an amateur journalist and not an organizer.
“Mr. Evans was consistently documenting the progress of the protest, which was streaming to his activism page containing his real name,” Bryan said in a statement Thursday. “He made no efforts to conceal his identity in any way.”
Evans later deleted his videos, and his Facebook page has since disappeared.
A petition for his removal from office gained more than 66,000 signatures in three days.
West Virginia House Speaker Roger Hanshaw expressed support for the resignation of his fellow Republican, saying he was “deeply troubled” by the violence of the group that forced its entry into the Capitol.
“In announcing his resignation, Delegate Evans said he accepted responsibility for his actions and apologized to those he’s hurt,” Hanshaw said in a statement. “In this time of overheated, hyperbolic political rage, I think that’s a good first step for us all to take right now.”