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Former Olympic swimmer Klete Keller charged in Capitol riot

NBC News logo NBC News 1/13/2021 Minyvonne Burke
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Two-time Olympic gold medal swimmer Klete Keller was charged in federal court Wednesday over allegations that he participated in last week's riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Keller, 38, was charged in Washington, D.C., with obstructing law enforcement, knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and violent entry and disorderly conduct, according to a criminal complaint.

A video posted on Twitter by a Townhall Media reporter showed Keller inside the Capitol with a group of President Donald Trump's supporters. In the video, the crowd pushed against police officers who were trying to clear the Rotunda.

Keller was seen wearing a jacket with the letters "USA" on the back.

Sarah Hirshland, CEO of the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee, released a statement before the charges were filed saying the organization will determine whether any action should be taken.

"First off, I strongly condemn the actions of the rioters at the U.S. Capitol," she said in a statement on Twitter, saying they contradict the committee's values.

"At home, and around the world, Team USA athletes are held to a very high standard as they represent our country on the field of play and off," she said. "What happened in Washington, D.C., was a case where that standard was clearly not met."

Earlier, the committee released a statement condemning the "violent actions of the rioters."

USA Swimming said, "We respect private individuals' and groups' rights to peacefully protest but in no way condone the actions taken by those at the Capitol last week."

Keller has not publicly commented about his participation at the Capitol, which was first reported by the swimming website SwimSwam. Calls to numbers listed for him were not immediately returned Wednesday.

Keller, who was a teammate of Michael Phelps, was a member of three U.S. Olympic teams. He won gold in the 4x200-meter relay team event in Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008. He won silver in the event at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

USA Swimming said he was last registered as a member in 2008. After stepping away from the sport, Keller worked as an independent contractor for Hoff & Leigh, a real estate agency in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The agency said Keller resigned Tuesday.

"Hoff & Leigh supports the right of free speech and lawful protest but we cannot condone actions that violate the rule of law," it said in a statement. "We pride ourselves on our deeply held core values of family, loyalty, community and stewardship. We continue to stand by these values."

Last week, hundreds of pro-Trump supporters breached the Capitol in protest of the Electoral College vote affirming President-elect Joe Biden's victory in the November election. Five people, including a police officer, died as a result of the incursion.

The acting U.S. attorney in Washington, Mike Sherwin, said last week that 55 people had been charged in connection with the riot with various offenses, including unlawful entry, assault, theft and weapons charges.

Sherwin said that federal and local investigators have been searching social media for photos and videos of people engaged in unlawful activity and that those people are being arrested as quickly as possible. No video has emerged of Keller's participating in any violent acts in the Capitol.

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