Cheektowaga man initially claiming he didn’t take part in U.S. Capitol riot is seen on video attempting to set media equipment on fire

Local News

Pete Harding

(WIVB)– Pete Harding says he went to Washington this week to stand up for truth, liberty, and justice. He denies taking part in the insurrection that left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer who was killed in the line of duty.

Initially, Pete Harding told our Marlee Tuskes in a Zoom meeting he did not enter the building, but after a video showed he had been inside, he claimed he never said that.

Here’s what Harding had to say about that:

Harding: “I did not say that.”

Vaughters: “We have you saying that.”

Harding: “On video you have me saying that?”

Vaughters: “Yes.”

Harding: “Okay, then I apologize for giving you information that may be misleading because I remember that differently.”

There was also the incident away from the Capitol building where a mob attacked news media covering the Washington happenings. They smashed their cameras, lights, and electronics gear.

The remains were piled up and the video showed Harding trying to light it up, although he told us it was just a symbolic gesture.

Harding said “Nothing burned. It was metal, it was far from any structure, it was nowhere near the Capitol building. It was nowhere near a tree, it was not even on grass that could be lit on fire.”

Harding told us his role in the violence that took five lives and trashed the halls of Congress on Wednesday was as a peacekeeper.

But whose peace?

Here is the exchange between News 4 reporter Al Vaughters and Harding:

Harding: “To stand for freedom and liberty and justice.”

Vaughters: “Freedom and liberty and justice is one thing, but to attack the U.S. Capitol is entirely different.”

Harding: “Were you there?”

Vaughters: “Why are you asking me that? The whole world knows what happened there?”

Harding: “Did you see it?”

Vaughters: “Did I see what, the attack on the Capitol?”

Harding: “Why are you calling it an attack?”

Pete Harding says he was not an insurrectionist.

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, James Kennedy says his office has received a number of tips regarding the violence at the Capitol, and anyone here who committed a crime on Wednesday will be prosecuted.

Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here.

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