2 Orange County women charged in connection with Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol

Two women accused of illegally entering the U.S. Capitol building during the Jan. 6 insurrection are facing federal charges after recently being arrested in Orange County.

Michelle Estey and Melanie Belger are facing federal charges of entering a restricted building, disorderly and disruptive conduct, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, according to a complaint unsealed Friday at a federal courthouse in Washington D.C.

Both women were arrested in Orange County, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Estey is a Newport Beach resident, according to court filings, while Belger is a Tustin resident.

The FBI was tipped that both women were suspected of being involved in the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, when thousands of pro-Trump supporters took part in an at-times violent but ultimately failed attempt to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

According to a statement by an FBI agent filed with the federal complaint, both women are believed to have been filmed inside a room at the Capitol in a YouTube video that was later posted online under the title “D.C. Burning – Jan. 6 DC Riots.”

A family friend of Estey’s identified her from the video, wearing a blue Trump beanie and staring at her phone, while a former co-worker identified Belger, who appeared to be wearing an American flag bandana around her neck and holding an empty bottle of rum, the agent wrote.

In order to enter and exit that room the women would have had to climb through a broken window, the agent wrote. They allegedly spent several minutes inside the room “with other rioters while furniture was being destroyed, desks and drawers searched and files ransacked and searched,” the agent added.

The agent’s statement also cites a Facebook comment allegedly posted by Belger on Jan. 7 saying “Back at hotel! Was in the Capitol im safe… Pence=NOT SAFE,” an apparent reference to then-Vice President Mike Pence.

Both women are scheduled to make their first court appearance on Oct. 4. It wasn’t immediately clear from court records if either of them has hired an attorney.

See also: List: These Southern California residents are accused of taking part in the Capitol riot

More than 800 people nationwide have been arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection, including two-dozen-plus defendants with ties to Southern California.

Nationwide, more than 275 defendants have already pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the Capitol breach, with the bulk of them admitting to misdemeanor counts, most commonly amounting to trespassing in the Capitol or adjacent restricted grounds.

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