Another Donald Trump supporter from Pennsylvania went to federal prison Tuesday for storming the Capitol and assaulting police in support of the then-president’s election lies.
Brian Gundersen, 28, who lives in State College with his mother, was sentenced in Washington, D.C., to 18 months.
Prosecutors had asked for 46, saying Gundersen has shown zero remorse for his actions.
He’d been found guilty of two felonies on Nov. 9 following a stipulated trial.
Prior to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, Gundersen asked on Facebook if anyone else was going to the event and wrote, “we might be able to bum rush the white house and take it over.”
Gundersen and his mother drove to D.C., where he entered the Capitol and joined the rioters climbing the northwest steps.
As rioters fought cops, he waved more of them into the Parliamentarian Door and then entered the Office of the Parliamentarian. He saw rioters ransacking the place, destroying furniture and throwing papers to the floor. He spent eight minutes in there and wrote a note expressing mock remorse with the phrase “sowwy for damage” with a crying emoticon.
Gunderson continued moving through the building until police forced him out. But he wasn’t done. He returned to the Northwest Courtyard and re-entered. Cops again forced him out. He stayed on the grounds, moving to the Northwest Terrace, where he joined another mob fighting with cops. He rushed one of them, striking the officer with his arm before another cop with a shield shoved him back.
In the days after the chaos, Gundersen went on social media to brag, like many of the rioters. He said, “we all stormed the us capital and tried to take over the government.” He posted photos of Congress members taking cover along with the message “Look at these scared little bitches.” He also posted that he “loves Trump” but said the president should have been more involved to “make sure things went the way he intended.”
Gundersen said the riot was a “righteous crusade for freedom.”
But as time went on, it apparently dawned on him that the FBI might be interested in what he’d done.
On Jan. 10, he told someone online that he didn’t go into the building and said “no violence from me.” Three days later a friend told him he’d seen him on the TV news. Gundersen asked if he’d told anyone and then said, “I didn’t enter the building so I should be fine.” He then came up with a strategy: “From now on I’m just going to deny being there.”
The FBI showed up at his house on Jan. 19, and he maintained that lie, but video put him inside the building, and after his arrest on Jan. 25 he admitted that he was inside. He also admitted to entering the ransacked room and to writing that fake apology note.
Prosecutors acknowledged that Gundersen has had mental health issues in the past but said his condition is under control. They said he knew what he was doing as reflected in his boastful social media posts.
“Blaming Gundersen’s actions at the Capitol on mental health issues would unfairly contribute to the stigma surrounding mental illness and unjustly relieve him of personal responsibility,” they said.
Gundersen’s lawyer said he has learned his lesson, he’s sorry for what he did, and that he’s working to “rehabilitate” himself.
In addition to the prison term, the judge ordered him to pay $2,000 in restitution for damage and ordered him to be on probation for three years.