CHICAGO — A retired Chicago Fire Department lieutenant joined anti-government militia groups in storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, federal prosecutors now allege.
Joseph Pavlik, 65, was charged earlier this month with obstruction of law enforcement, entering and remaining in a restricted building and disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building, according to federal court records that were unsealed Tuesday.
Pavlik, who retired as a lieutenant in the Chicago Fire Department in 2013, could not be reached for comment. Court records show he was arrested earlier this week and was released on a personal recognizance bond after his initial court hearing on Tuesday. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Feb. 3.
In an affidavit submitted to the court, an FBI agent said that Pavlik has been associated with the Oath Keepers, a violent, far-right militia group, since at least 2009 — several years before he retired from the CFD.
“Pavlik appears to have multiple links to militia groups and indicia consistent with hold an Anti-Government/Anti-Authority Violent Extremist (AG/AAVE) ideology,” the agent wrote. “His telephone number was listed on an Oath Keeper roster from 2009-2015, indicating an associate with this militia group.”
Prosecutors allege Pavlik is also a member of the “B Squad,” another militia group that adheres to the ideology of the “Three Percenters,” which the Southern Poverty Law Center characterized as “a vanguard extremist movement that claims to be ready to carry out armed resistance to perceived tyranny.”
Federal officials allege that Pavlik rented an eight-passenger van in southwest suburban Oak Lawn and drove to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 5, 2021.
The following day, as supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol Building in an effort to stop the ratification of electoral college votes, Pavlik and five other members of the B Squad “joined the group of rioters who were attempting to force their way past the officers responsible for securing The Tunnel, an entry to the Capitol that provides immediate and unobstructed access to sensitive areas and offices used by Members of Congress,” the FBI agent wrote.
Those five other members of the B Squad were arrested and charged in August 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Pavlik could be seen wearing “a black tactical vest with a patch associated with the ‘Three Percenters’ movement that bore the slogan ‘When Tyranny Becomes Law Rebellion Becomes Duty,” the agent said. Pavlik also wore a helmet and gas mask, and he had “what appears to be a chemical irritant spray in his hand.”
Federal agents first interviewed Pavlik at his home on the Southwest Side in August 2022 and again four months later.
“Pavlik said he was pushed by the crowd into the police line but had his hands up the entire time so that police knew he was not a threat,” the FBI agent wrote in the affidavit. “Pavlik said his gas mask was ripped off and he was pepper sprayed. He eventually exited the Tunnel and someone helped him was his eyes out.”
Federal agents say Pavlik made several inflammatory and extremist posts to his Facebook account in the months leading up to the Jan. 6 riot.
The day after Joe Biden defeated Trump in the presidential election, Pavlik allegedly wrote: “Democrats told us they were going to steal this election RIGHT TO OUR FACES . . . AND WE DID NOTHING . . . . . .So get ready young guys because YOU WILL LIVE ON YOUR KNEES from this day forward THATS RIGHT because we will do nothing.”
On Dec. 14, 2020, Pavlik allegedly wrote: “These aren’t Americans they are indoctrinated socialists that hate America and hate Americans. We need to be much more brutal than punching and kicking. This is not some simple street disagreement.”
Twelve days later, Pavlik allegedly wrote: “WE ARE THE STORM THAT THE DEMOCRATS AND RINOS THOUGHT WOULD NEVER SHOW UP and we are just getting started.”
In 2014, Ald. Marty Quinn (13th) introduced a resolution at the City Council to honor Pavlik on his retirement from the CFD after more than three decades on the job.
“Throughout his career, Lieutenant Pavlik upheld the finest and most noble traditions of public service,” Quinn wrote.