Capitol Riot Was Planned By Self-Styled Militia Members, FBI Says
According to new court documents filed last week, dozens of self-styled militia members from Virginia, Ohio and other states planned to storm the U.S. Capitol for days in advance of the actual attack on January 6.
The Oath Keepers leader, Thomas Edward Caldwell, 66, of Clarke County, Va., was charged by the U.S. authorities in the attack, claiming he helped organize the 30 or 40 people who broke into the doors of the Capitol building.
“We have about 30-40 of us. We are sticking together and striking to the plan,” co-defendant Jessica Watkins, 38, a U.S. Army veteran, said while the break-in was occurring, according to court documents unsealed on Tuesday.
“You are executing citizen’s arrest. Arrest this assembly. We have probable cause of acts of treason, election fraud,” a man replied, according to communications recovered from her phone, the FBI said in the complaint.
In Caldwell’s charging papers, the FBI said that it is reviewing communications between Caldwell “and other known and unknown Oath Keepers members.”
An FBI agent in court records said Caldwell helped organize a group of eight to 10 individuals led by Watkins, a bartender who founded the “Ohio State Regular Militia” in 2019. A video was taken of the group members wearing helmets and military gear moving purposefully towards the top of the Capitol steps, court records said.
Real-time narration of parts of the assault on the Capitol was made public by investigators for unsealed conspiracy charges.
Federal prosecutors in Washington have charged more than 10 defendants in the past 13 days. People with alleged ties to extremist groups, including the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and Three Percenters, have been arrested this week. The members offered evidence that the riot was not an impulsive but an instigated event.
Hours of social media videos were posted, focusing on individuals in military-style gear moving together, as if it was planned.