On January 6, Lisa Eisenhart and her son Eric Munchel, 30, departed the lobby of the Grand Hyatt hotel around noon, bulletproof tactical vests over their clothes and coffee cups in hand. They had driven from Nashville to Washington, D.C., to attend the “Stop the Steal” rally, where then-President Donald Trump encouraged his supporters to descend upon the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers worked to certify an election he lost.
After the rally, the pair made their way to the Capitol. According to court documents, Munchel mounted his cell phone to his vest and started recording. Before rushing into the building, Eisenhart and Munchel paused — bringing weapons inside the Capitol was grounds for “going straight to federal prison,” Eisenhart warned, according to a transcript of Munchel’s recording. FBI agents allege the mother and son stashed a bag of weapons outside, but Munchel brought his taser.
In one of the most viral images from the riot, Munchel jumps over seats in the Senate gallery holding a bundle of zip-tie restraints in his left hand. “Zip-tie guy,” the internet dubbed him. Far fewer reports mentioned what court filings note: Eisenhart was in the Senate gallery too, wielding plastic restraints while chanting, “Treason!” Einsenhart later told a British newspaper that she and her son went into the building as “observers.”
I’d rather die a 57-year-old woman than live under oppression,” Eisenhart told The Sun Times. “I’d rather die and would rather fight.”
Eisenhart was arrested January 16 for obstruction of an official proceeding, violent entry and disorderly conduct in a restricted building, and aiding and abetting. A Tennessee judge approved her release, but last week, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled in favor of detaining her pending trial even though Eisenhart, who does not have a passport, isn’t considered a flight risk.
“Indeed, Eisenhart’s willingness to die for her cause indicates that release conditions may be even less effective for her,” the ruling reads. “If Eisenhart does not fear the ultimate consequence, the consequences for disobeying release conditions are unlikely to deter her.”
The FBI received screenshots from a since-deleted Instagram account that featured Courtright’s first and middle names as the handle. In one photo, with crowds of people at the Capitol toting American flags in the background, a woman the FBI says is Courtright, stands with her weight on her right leg, arms suspended in the air as if in celebration, a pink fanny pack clipped around her waist, a yellow trimmed beanie atop her head. “Can’t wait to tell my grandkids I was here,” the caption reads.
The FBI picked up on Courtright’s distinctive beanie in surveillance video from inside the Capitol with a “Members Only” sign an officer later confiscated from her.
A judge in West Virginia, where Courtright is from, issued a $10,000 unsecured bond, which permits Courtright to attend classes in another state. On February 11, Courtright pleaded not guilty to five counts of theft of government property, entering the Capitol, picketing in the Capitol, and two charges of disorderly and disruptive conduct.
On January 6, within hours of the riot, court documents show that she posted a mirror selfie on Instagram. “Infamy is just as good as fame, either way I end up more known. XOXO,” text across the photo read. Someone replied to Courtright’s post: “You were there???”
“Yes it wasn’t violent like the news said I took pictures all in the building, I never saw the violence, I guess i was lucky,” Courtright replied. “The cops like let’s [sic] us walk in. … It’s history idc. I thought it was cool.”