By LOUIS C. HOCHMAN
A former Montclair High School student is facing federal charges connected to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Elias Irizarry, now a South Carolina resident, is accused in a criminal complaint filed by the FBI of attending the riot. The complaint cites surveillance photos it says were used to identify both Irizarry and another man, Elliot Bishai, with the help of witnesses.
Irizarry is described in one of the photos as “wearing a dark red hooded sweatshirt, a red baseball hat, dark colored gloves, a red face covering, brown military style boots, and … holding a long cylindrical object in his right hand.”
Both men are accused of knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building without lawful entry, knowingly engaging in disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
The complaint does not describe any specific act of violence beyond the entry itself.
Witnesses who saw the photos recognized the men as cadets in a Civil Air Patrol unit, the complaint says. The Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C., reported Irizarry is a freshman at The Citadel, where he remains a cadet pending an investigation. It also reported he received a gold star from The Citadel for a high GPA in the fall, citing a school press release.
His Facebook page describes him as “from Montclair.”
In 2017, when the Montclair Township Council passed a resolution naming Montclair a “welcoming” but not “sanctuary” community before a packed audience of about 200 residents, Irizarry addressed the governing body. Then the chairman of the Essex County Teenage Republicans, he said the township was diverse “except for anybody with right-wing opinions,” Montclair Local reported at the time.
He said his family had struggled financially to remain in Montclair, and that “we need to put Montclair citizens first, not undocumented foreigners.”
The two men’s mothers told reporters their sons were swept up with hundreds of others in the U.S. Capitol during a protest of the 2020 presidential election results, and didn’t intend any harm, the Post and Courier reported. Lorraine Irizarry said Elias Irizarry cried when he got home, and hadn’t expected the protest to become violent.
Several reports describe Elias Irizarry as the son of soap opera actor Vincent Irizarry.
U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill, a Democrat from Montclair, was among the lawmakers in the Capitol when the riot started.
“You couldn’t see anything. The doors were closed and locked. It was muffled. You knew this violent crowd was getting closer and closer to the chamber,” she told Montclair Local in January.
The congresswoman said she considered Montclair a place where people are particularly engaged — “and I know people are worried. I know people are scared. They probably, as I am, are shaken by what they have seen.”
“What I want to people to know is we are going through a stress test of our democracy like no other, but our country is safe and we are going to prevail,” she said.
In a letter to Montclair Local following the riot, Councilman Bob Russo called on “all of the more moderate, traditional, good Republicans in Montclair to repudiate this shameful conduct and continued conspiracy theory talk by President Donald Trump and the majority of the Republican members of Congress.”
In response, Montclair Republican Club President John Van Wagner demanded an apology from Russo, saying, “We are not an appendage of the Republican state or national apparatus, but rather a civic organization based on the principle that the individual is the origin and source of all value in society.”