Washington — A 54-year-old New York man was arrested and charged with assaulting officers and other violent crimes stemming from his alleged participation in the January 6, 2021, court documents revealed Wednesday.
The Justice Department says Ralph Joseph Celentano III, of Broad Channel, New York, “blind-sided” a Capitol Police officer from behind in a “football-type tackle,” pushing the officer over a ledge on the Capitol’s west terrace, according to an account the officer gave investigators.
The officer, an Iraq war veteran identified only by his initials “K.E.” in the criminal complaint, was pushed over the ledge and landed on the terrace below.
“I didn’t survive a war to go out like this,” the officer recalled thinking as he fell, according to the court documents.
Celentano allegedly fought other law enforcement officers protecting the Capitol building, charging documents say, before returning to his hometown the day after the attack. Body- and security-camera videos captured the alleged attacks on law enforcement that investigators describe in the documents.
Prosecutors say they identified Celentano’s long hair, a flag he was carrying and a folding chair that was attached to his backpack, making him “distinctive” in the crowd.
Investigators examined the EZ Pass toll transponder connected to an unnamed woman described by a government witness as Celentano’s “on and off again girlfriend” to track the defendant’s alleged travel from New York to the nation’s capital and back again.
A CBS News review of court documents reveals over 750 individuals have been charged for allegedly taking part in the January 6 attack. Over 222 of them have entered plea agreements with the government.
Guy Reffitt, the first January 6 defendant to stand trial, wasafter a jury ruled he carried a gun onto Capitol grounds and interfered with officers as the mob made its way into the building.
Because of the rioting that day, Congress was forced to temporarily halt its counting of the 2020 Electoral College votes, a process that would ultimately certify the election of President Joe Biden.
Four people who were at the rally died on January 6: Ashli Babbitt, who was shot by a Capitol Police officer, and three others who died of separate “medical emergencies,” authorities said at the time. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was sprayed with a chemical substance during the riot, collapsed later and died after suffering two strokes on January 7, the D.C. medical examiner’s office said.
In the days and months after the attack, four more police officers who responded at the Capitol that day died by suicide.
At least 140 officers were physically attacked during the Capitol breach, the U.S. attorney’s office says, and over 275 individuals have been charged with assaulting or interfering with police.