A New Hyde Park man pleaded guilty Tuesday to a felony charge for leading a group of rioters inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Eric Gerwatowski, 32, was at the front of a crowd outside the upper House doors when he pulled one of them open after Capitol Police previously closed them to prevent rioters from entering, according to federal prosecutors.
After opening the doors, Gerwatowski turned to the crowd behind him and shouted “Let’s go!” as he began to direct rioters inside the building.
Gerwatowski pleaded guilty to interfering with law enforcement during a civil disorder. He faces a maximum of five years in prison when he is sentenced in early March.
While inside the Capitol, Gerwatowski was livestreamed by another rioter that showed him saying “They’re raping kids and they’re shooting kids” before leaving after being inside for about three minutes, officials said.
Gerwatowski was also interviewed outside the Capitol on camera saying “the commies are trying to steal the country” and that he believed the election was stolen, among other things.
Gerwatowski is a graduate of Herricks High School Class of 2008, according to classmates.com.
The Daily News reported he was a member of heavy metal rock bands. The website Reverberation lists an Eric Gerwatowski as a vocalist for the band The Optimist. One of the songs featured on The Optimist website is titled “Maladjusted.”
The band’s Facebook page in 2015 shared a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. saying “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
Gerwatowksi was arrested in February earlier this year.
Officials said the Twitter account @SeditionHunters, which is operated by civilians to share information to help identify suspects from the riot, posted pictures of Gerwatowski using the hashtag #lordlonghair.
The FBI was also able to find an Instagram account that is believed to belong to Gerwatowski, which has since been deleted but was still active on Jan. 6. Multiple tipsters also identified Gerwatowski, said he shared the fact he entered the Capitol and gave authorities his phone number, the FBI said.
One of the Capitol officers that day told the FBI he made a “tactical decision” not to engage Gerwatowski and other rioters.
“The Officer told the FBI that he was exhausted, outnumbered, and had already been attacked and sprayed with several chemicals by rioters earlier in the day,” the complaint said.
More than 900 people from nearly every state have been arrested for various crimes related to the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol Building, officials said.
In October, Nassau attorney and former East Williston school board Trustee John O’Kelly was arrested for his actions during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, according to the federal prosecutors.
O’Kelly, 66, is charged with felony charges of assaulting, resisting, or impeding law enforcement officers and interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder, along with related misdemeanor offenses, officials said.