Athol man charged in Capitol riot released on $10K bond

  • VINCENT GILLESPIE

  • Athol resident Vincent Gillespie was arrested by the FBI Boston Division on Feb. 18 for allegedly assaulting officers during the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021. Gillespie allegedly rammed officers with a police shield and tried to pull an officer into the mob of rioters. Courtesy Photo/FBI Boston Division

Staff Writer
Published: 2/22/2022 8:13:23 PM
Modified: 2/22/2022 8:12:59 PM

ATHOL — The Athol man facing federal charges for allegedly assaulting law enforcement officers during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol has been released from jail and is due to return to court Thursday.

Vincent J. Gillespie, 60, a former resident of Greenfield and Easthampton, posted a $10,000 unsecured bond in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on Friday. An unsecured bond means a defendant promises to pay a certain amount if he or she does not follow the conditions of release or appear in court.

Gillespie had been arrested in Athol on Friday morning and charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding officers; civil disorder; engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds; and related offenses. The case eventually will be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Gillespie and Assistant Federal Public Defender Timothy Watkins appeared before Magistrate Judge David H. Hennessy via video conference on Friday, according to information from Gillespie’s docket. Due to the court’s operating procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic, the defendant appeared remotely from a cellblock in Worcester and waived his right to be physically present in the courtroom.

“The court finds that requiring the defendant to be present could further jeopardize the health of the public and that delaying this proceeding would not serve justice,” reads the electronic clerk’s note obtained by the Greenfield Recorder.

Gillespie is scheduled to have an initial appearance in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia via video conference at 1 p.m. on Thursday. He also is slated for a preliminary hearing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts at 10 a.m. on Monday. The public can access this hearing online at bit.ly/3sayzrJ by entering Gillespie’s name into the search bar. People can register for hearings two days in advance.

In an email to the Recorder, Gillespie said his attorney had advised him not to speak with the news media.

Gillespie was taken into custody without incident on Friday by special agents and officers with the FBI Boston Division’s Western Massachusetts Joint Terrorism Task Force, in conjunction with the Athol Police Department. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Gillespie allegedly assaulted law enforcement officers by ramming them with a police shield during the U.S. Capitol riot. From at least 4:11 p.m. to at least 4:25 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2021, Gillespie was allegedly among rioters in the Lower West Terrace of the Capitol and engaged in pushing, shoving, yelling and fighting with law enforcement officers.

According to court documents, Gillespie made his way to the front of the pack of rioters, grabbed a police shield and allegedly rammed law enforcement officers while screaming “traitor” and “treason” at the police. Gillespie also allegedly grabbed an officer by the arm and attempted to pull -him into the crowd, according to court documents.

Supporters of then-President Donald Trump convened at the Ellipse within the National Mall, just south of the White House, on Jan. 6 for the “Save America” rally, where Trump and other speakers continued to make unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud and irregularities in the 2020 presidential election. Trump told supporters to march to the Capitol building and “peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard,” saying they would “never take back our country with weakness.”

Trump also said at the rally that “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, called for “trial by combat.”

Supporters marched to the U.S. Capitol and wreaked havoc, forcing their way inside in an attempt to disrupt the Electoral College certification of the 2020 presidential election. At least 138 police officers were injured in the violence, and four committed suicide within seven months of the riot. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick was pepper-sprayed during the insurrection and suffered two strokes the following day, resulting in his death. Additionally, one woman was shot dead by a Capitol Police officer.

The FBI sought the public’s assistance in identifying involved parties through the scores of photos and videos taken during the attack. Gillespie was previously identified as “AFO-141” and, according to court documents, was identified by six witnesses in Athol. The documents state a former neighbor of Gillespie, an American Automobile Association employee, three employees of the town of Athol — where Gillespie “frequently” attended meetings and paid his tax bills at Town Hall — and the manager of a local business independently identified Gillespie.

The FBI continues to seek the public’s assistance in identifying people who made unlawful entry into the U.S. Capitol and committed other crimes on Jan. 6, 2021. The FBI asks those who have any information on individuals pictured at fbi.gov/wanted/capitol-violence to call 1-800-CALL-FBI or submit an online tip at tips.fbi.gov.

Updates on the status of the investigation into the riot are available at bit.ly/3v9KJCQ.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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