Authorities found sniper rifle, handcuffs in home of accused ‘zip tie guy’ in Capitol riot

Natalie Neysa Alund

Mariah Timms
| Nashville Tennessean

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Federal agents recovered a sniper rifle and more than a dozen high-powered weapons from the home of Eric Munchel, a Nashville man charged in connection with this month’s U.S. Capitol riot and storming in Washington D.C., new court documents show.

They also found a tactical vest covered in patches and a set of plastic restraints that match those that caught the attention of social media users in the aftermath of the riot and led to the nickname “zip tie guy.”

The items, discovered when federal agents searched his home, are among several reasons why federal prosecutors plan to argue Munchel should remain in custody as his case proceeds, according to a a motion filed Wednesday in Middle Tennessee U.S. District Court. 

The 31-page memo signed by federal prosecutors was filed in advance of a hearing set Friday to determine whether a judge will approve him to be released from custody.

“Munchel gleefully acquired several sets of plastic handcuffs as he walked through the Capitol and entered the Senate chamber, where only moments earlier the Vice President of the United States was certifying the results of the 2020 Presidential election,” prosecutors state in the memo. “In the Senate gallery, Munchel stood with a crowd whose members shouted ‘Treason!’ and lamented the disappearance of lawmakers from the chamber moments earlier.

“Munchel’s conduct here was dangerous and extremely serious.”

Taser used to find Munchel

Munchel, 30, has been jailed since his Jan. 10 arrest.

He is among the five people with Tennessee connections so far arrested after the Jan. 6 attack when a mob of pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. Five people died and a sweeping federal investigation is underway.

The man dubbed “zip tie guy” by social media was pictured in the Senate gallery carrying plastic restraints, an item in a holster on his right hip and a cellphone mounted on his chest with the camera facing outward among the crowd of individuals who forcibly entered the Capitol.

Investigators have named Munchel as the person in the photos.

When law enforcement interviewed Munchel in D.C., he was carrying a black and yellow ‘Taser Pulse’ device that emits electrical shock, FBI Special Agent Carlos D Fontanez wrote in the affidavit supporting Munchel’s arrest.

Munchel, the affidavit continues, told agents he had the device for self protection as he had participated in the pro-Trump rally.

The new filing indicates investigators used the registration of that device to track Munchel down, matching it to records kept by the Metro Nashville Police Department. 

Mother shouted ‘treason’

Munchel’s mother, Lisa Eisenhart of Woodstock, Georgia, was also arrested in Nashville in connection to the deadly riot. She is facing similar charges to her son. 

Investigators said Munchel and Eisenhart, 56, brought firearms with them to D.C., court documents show.

Video footage reviewed by the FBI indicated they may have stashed the weapons on the grounds of the Capitol before entering the building, investigators said.

The video was pulled from a cell phone the FBI obtained in their investigation of Munchel and includes recordings of the events at the Capitol, according to court documents, including audio of Munchel and visuals of Eisenhart inside the building. 

The footage itself was not included in online court filings.

“As Munchel and Eisenhart get closer to the Capitol, an unknown woman can be heard to make a reference to ‘treason.’ Munchel replies, ‘Hell yeah it is,'” according to court documents. 

“F(-ing) ready to (expletive) (expletive) up,” Munchel said at one point, according to prosecutors. 

Prosecutors said Eisenhart leaned over a banister and shouted at police officers, “Freedom!” “Traitors!” “We want a fair election!” and “We want rule of law!”

While in the building, prosecutors said, the pair joined a group mocking lawmakers who went into lockdown as the rioters overwhelmed security. 

According to the FBI analysis of the video, the crowd shouts the following: 

“Anybody home?”

“They’re cowards!”

“Are you afraid?”

Zip tie cuffs found in building

According to the motion, Munchel found plastic handcuffs inside the Capitol.

“At one point, Munchel spots plastic handcuffs on a table inside a hallway in the Capitol,” the new motion reads. “Munchel exclaims, “Zipties. I need to get me some of them…” and grabs several white plastic handcuffs from on top of a cabinet (but leaves many others).”

Munchel took the plastic handcuffs home with him, the new court papers show.

Prosecutors argued in the filing Munchel is a danger to the public and a flight risk.

If a judge is to set bond in the case and he is released, prosecutors asked the court to order conditions of bail including wearing a GPS tracking device and staying away from Washington D.C.

As of late Thursday morning , Munchel’s defense attorneys had not filed a response to the motion.

Munchel faces charges including knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

The first charge carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. The second carries a potential maximum of six months in prison and a $5,000 fine. 

The case is being handled between both Middle Tennessee and District of Columbia district courts. 

Follow Natalie Neysa Alund on Twitter @nataliealund.

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