A 24-year-old Illinois man was hit with federal charges Tuesday alleging he posted video of himself on Instagram storming the U.S. Capitol building during the Jan. 6 siege while wearing a designer coat and pro-Trump hat.
Christian Kulas, of Kenilworth, was arrested at home shortly after 6 a.m. on misdemeanor charges of unlawful entry of a restricted building and disorderly conduct on U.S. Capitol grounds. Each charges carries a maximum sentence of a year in prison.
He appeared via a telephone link hours later before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Fuentes in Chicago, who ordered him released on a recognizance bond to the custody of his mother. A court hearing in the district court in Washington will be set at a later date.
Kulas spoke only briefly during the 45-minute hearing. When the judge asked if he could identify himself, Kulas said slowly, “Hello. This is Christian Kulas on the line. Thank you.”
Later, Fuentes asked Kulas if he understood the conditions of his release.
“Yes, I understand that I must listen to everything my mother says, your honor,” Kulas said.
Kulas’ parents did not immediately respond to messages left by the Tribune.
Kulas was at least the ninth Illinoisan to be federally charged as part of the ongoing investigation into the Capitol attack, which prosecutors have described as one of the largest criminal investigations in American history.
A 10-page criminal complaint alleged that Kulas was captured by others on social media as well as in surveillance images at the Capitol wearing a pricey Burberry coat and a hat with the Trump campaign slogan, “Keep America Great.”
Video clips posted on an Instagram account associated with Kulas showed the throngs of people at a rally where President Donald Trump was speaking as well as rioters ascending the Capitol steps after the president’s speech, the complaint alleged.
In one clip, Kulas allegedly turned the camera around and laughing, captured his own face as he filmed. In another, he could be heard uttering the words, “Storming the Capitol,” the complaint alleged.
The FBI began receiving tips about Kulas’ participation three days after the attack, according to the complaint. An informant who went to middle school and high school with Kulas later identified him from the videos and said it was his voice talking about storming the Capitol.
Zana Weismantel, 22, who said she went to Lake Forest High School with him, was one of many people to identify and condemn Kulas on their social media accounts soon after the siege took place. She said he became the talk of the town once his name and photo hit the internet.
“I do know that a lot of people were fully aware,” she said. “It’s a small town. It traveled really quickly.”