‘Just surprising,’ neighbor says after Cary man accused of using bear spray on officers during Jan. 6 Capitol riot

North Carolina

CARY, N.C. (WNCN) – Residents in Cary were surprised to learn that one of their neighbors was accused this week of storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

“He always seemed like a good kid. Quiet,” said Michelle Hopkins. She said she was surprised to learn that her neighbor, 19-year-old Aidan Bilyard, was accused of storming the Capitol as Congress met to certify President Joe Biden’s electoral win in the 2020 election.

“It’s just surprising,” she said. “I don’t even know what to say.”

Bilyard is charged with engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds, civil disorder, and assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers with a dangerous weapon, among other charges. He was arrested in Raleigh on Monday and made an initial appearance in federal court.

(USDOJ)

Federal officials said Bilyard can be seen on video spraying law enforcement officers with a chemical irritant believed to have been “bear spray.”

Rioters used the spray to incapacitate officers, Department of Justice officials said.

Bilyard is also accused of using a bat to smash a window of the Capitol. He then entered a Senate room through the broken window, federal officials said.

Federal documents show the FBI interviewed Bilyard in August as he was going through basic training at Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio.

He told agents he was at the Capitol that day but only took part in lawful activities. After agents showed Bilyard videos of his “apparent participation,” the 19-year-old said, “this is where I take my leave.”

After the FBI spoke with him in Texas, he left the Air Force and moved back to Cary.

Hopkins said she wondered why Bilyard left for basic training only to return a few months later.

“We didn’t ask questions,” she said. “We all make mistakes, but it’s kind of like you have to learn.”

A cellphone connected to Bilyard was also tracked to being inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, court documents show.

The FBI used photos on his mother’s Facebook page to help identify Bilyard as he was wearing the same gray sweatshirt with “Harvard” across the chest on Jan. 6, federal documents say.

Agents also interviewed his mother in Cary, federal documents say. She said she found and threw away a canister matching the “bear spray” in the back of Bilyard’s vehicle.

Bilyard’s mother said her son claimed he found the canister on the ground outside the Capitol and it was OK to throw out, the documents say.

In the 10 months since Jan. 6, more than 675 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including over 210 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.

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