Three rioters face charges related to conspiracy at the Capitol riot
Kaylee Greenlee, DCNF
- Three people allegedly associated with the Oath Keepers were arrested on charges related to conspiracy at the Capitol riots.
- One of the men suggested gassing lawmakers and others who were taking shelter in the tunnels under the Capitol.
- The Oath Keepers are a paramilitary organization who believe that the federal government is conspiring to revoke Americans of their rights.
Federal conspiracy charges were filed against three who allegedly participated at the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
Prosecutors allege that the three people, who appear to belong to a militia group, acted in an “organized and practiced fashion” and suggested gassing people who were evacuated from the building taking shelter in the tunnels, The WSJ reported. When officials searched the residence of one of the accused, they found instructions on how to create explosives using bleach.
The three people were allegedly with a group who attempted to enter through doors between the House and Senate chambers, according to The WSJ. The group was reportedly seen on video with eight to 10 other people who were wearing helmets, tactical vests and clothing with various symbols and colors known to represent the Oath Keepers, a right-wing militia group.
— Reuters (@Reuters) January 19, 2021
Alleged Oath Keeper members Thomas Caldwell, 65, Donovan Crowl, 50, and Jessica Watkins, 38, were arrested in connection with a group that seemed to move in a military formation, according to the WSJ. One person in the group allegedly said that “we have a good group. We have about 30-40 of us. We are sticking together and sticking to the plan.”
The Oath Keepers are a paramilitary organization whose members believe that the federal government is conspiring to “strip American citizens of their rights,” according to several of the affidavits filed by the DOJ.
Caldwell was arrested Tuesday and Crowl and Watkins were both arrested Monday, according to the Department of Justice. All three were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct, obstructing an official proceeding, conspiring to injure officers and destroying federal property.
Caldwell allegedly received a Facebook message saying, “all members are in the tunnels under capital seal them in. Turn on gas,” according to The WSJ. He received other messages saying “Tom all legislators are down in the Tunnels 3floors down,” and “Do like we had to do when I was in the core start tearing oit florrs (sic) go from top to bottom.”
Caldwell described a hotel in Arlington, Virginia, as “a good location and would allow us to hunt at night if we wanted to,” according to The WSJ. He told an unnamed person to book a room there from Jan. 5 through Jan. 7, and a person named “Jessica Wagkins” made a reservation.
Watkins identified herself as a “C.O.” or commanding officer, of the Ohio State Regular Militia on Parler, according to the DOJ. She alllegedly confirmed that she entered the Capitol building by force in a Parler post.
Watkins said she entered the Capitol by force in a post with a photograph of herself to Parler wearing the same Oath Keepers uniform she was seen in on Jan. 6, according to the DOJ. The post was captioned “me before forcing entry into the Capitol Building. #stopthesteal2 #stormthecapitol #oathkeepers #ohiomilitia.”
“Yeah. We stormed the Capitol today. Teargassed, the whole, 9. Pushed our way into the Rotunda. Made it into the Senate even. The news is lying (even Fox) about the Historical Events we created today,” Watkins posted to Parler, according to the DOJ.
Watkins confirmed her affiliations with the Oath Keepers and her participation in the Capitol riot in a news interview, according to the DOJ. She also posted a photograph of Crowl at the Capitol.
Crowl is a member of the Ohio State Regular Militia, which is a dues-paying subset of the Oath Keepers, according to the DOJ. He identified himself as a member of the Oath Keepers and the Ohio State Regular Militia during an interview.
Crowl said in an interview that he was at the Capitol building to provide security to “V.I.P.s,” though he did not name anyone he was working for, according to the DOJ. He claimed to have protected “the fucking Capitol Hill police.”
Over 100 people involved in the riot have been charged and around 400 others are being investigated, according to The WSJ.