This is member-exclusive content
icon/ui/info filled

newsCourts

Tarrant County man who stormed Capitol with beer pleads guilty

Thomas Paul Conover, 53, admitted guilt to a misdemeanor count one year after he boasted on social media about storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, court records say.

He posted online that he doesn’t always storm the Capitol but that when he does, he prefers Coors Light.

Now Thomas Paul Conover, 53, from Keller is facing up to six months in prison after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge related to the Jan. 6 attack, according to court records.

Conover boasted on social media of enjoying a cold one in the U.S. Capitol but didn’t do any damage and isn’t accused of being violent. He is the fourth North Texas rioter — among about two dozen total defendants to date — to admit guilt in the massive case. He is scheduled to be sentenced in April.

Conover pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and agreed to pay $500 in restitution to cover damage to the Capitol, which is estimated to total $1.5 million. The agreement was signed on Dec. 22, and Conover entered his guilty plea in court via a video feed on Jan. 7, court records show.

Conover was arrested on Dec. 8 and released after his initial court appearance in a Fort Worth court, records show.

Thomas Paul Conover inside the Capitol building on Jan. 6
Thomas Paul Conover inside the Capitol building on Jan. 6(Department of Justice)

The FBI says he flew from Dallas to Washington, D.C., and was among the mob that forced its way into the Capitol building during the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising. He documented his activities that day in Facebook photos and videos, federal authorities said. Those posts later helped the FBI identify him after a tipster called with information, records say.

After leaving the Capitol building, Conover continued taking selfies and posing for photos with his beer can, the FBI said.

“Greetings from Washington, D.C. We took the Capital,” he said in one post, according to court records.

And in a video he recorded, Conover said, “I don’t always storm the Capitol of the United States of America, but when I do, I prefer Coors Light,” court records show.

He also recorded several videos from inside the Capitol rotunda, saying in one: “It’s really kind of cool. I’m glad I came,” the FBI says.

An attorney for Conover, a dent repairman, could not be reached Monday for comment.

More than 700 people nationwide have been charged in connection with the insurrection. Two local defendants who pleaded guilty have already been sentenced to time behind bars.

Troy Smocks, 58, of Dallas was sentenced in October to 14 months in prison for a felony after he threatened to hunt down Democrats and other “traitors.”

And Frisco real estate broker Jenna Ryan, 51, was given 60 days behind bars in November for a misdemeanor count related to her breaching of the Capitol building.

The FBI says this photo shows Donald Hazard fighting with Capitol police on Jan. 6.
The FBI says this photo shows Donald Hazard fighting with Capitol police on Jan. 6.(Justice Department)

A third defendant also has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for storming the Capitol. Kevin Sam Blakely, 55, a windshield repairman from McKinney, currently awaits sentencing, records show.

Meanwhile, two Tarrant County militia members accused of fighting with Capitol police during the riot have been ordered detained without bond pending trial following hearings in their cases, according to court records.

Lucas Denney, 44, of Mansfield and Donald Hazard, 43, of Hurst were arrested on Dec. 13 on felony charges, court records show.

Denney, an Army veteran, is president of the Patriot Boys, a Fort Worth militia group, according to federal authorities.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Collis White ruled on Dec. 20 that Denney “poses a serious risk that he will further attempt to obstruct justice or attempt to threaten, injure, or intimidate prospective witnesses.” The judge said because of that, Denney “poses a danger to others.”

Hazard, the Patriot Boys’ sergeant at arms, must also await trial while in federal custody, records show. He was ordered detained due to his criminal history and “substance abuse history” among other factors, a federal magistrate judge ruled.

President Joe Biden speaks at the US Capitol on January 6, 2022, to mark the anniversary of the attack. Thousands of supporters of then-president Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in a bid to prevent the certification of Biden's election victory.
Politics

Marking Jan. 6, Biden tars Trump as sore loser and liar who incited ‘armed insurrection’

President Joe Biden marked the anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol with a searing indictment of Donald Trump, accusing the former president of trying to shred American democracy by stoking a mob in hopes of clinging to power. “This wasn’t a group of tourists. This was an armed insurrection,” Biden said. “A former president of the United States has spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. … because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy, or our Constitution."
By

Kevin Krause. Kevin has worked for The Dallas Morning News since 2003, and he has covered federal criminal courts for the past six years. Kevin has been a journalist for 26 years. Kevin is a multiple recipient of the Stephen Philbin Award for excellence in legal reporting. Kevin earned a BA from Boston University.

kkrause@dallasnews.com @KevinRKrause
Breaking News

Get the breaking news

Get email alerts on breaking news stories as soon as they happen.

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy