Militants charged in Capitol assault
Veterans, ex-cops are among those arrested
The Justice Department has charged suspected members of the Three Percenters, a militia group that emerged some years ago from the extremist wing of the gun rights movement, and of the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group founded by law enforcement and military veterans, as it works to determine whether the groups conspired to attack Congress.
The charges include unlawful entry, assault on a federal officer, disorderly conduct, destruction of federal property, obstruction of an official proceeding and obstruc
tion of justice.
On Sunday evening, Donovan Crowl, 50, a former Marine, and Jessica Watkins, 38, an Army veteran, surrendered to authorities in Ohio after they published photos of themselves on social media wearing combat gear and saying they had stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College victory of President-elect Joe Biden.
The FBI said a group Watkins belongs to is a unit of the Oath Keepers and that she and Crowl were wearing Oath Keepers patches.
The recent arrests of veterans and former law enforcement officers underscore the Justice Department’s worry that some of the attackers may have been part of more coordinated efforts to attack Congress and that they employed specialized skills in the assault. Videos and photos have revealed scenes of rioters in tactical gear weaving through the mobs inside the Capitol in tight formation, carrying restraints and using hand signals to communicate.
Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney in Washington, has said his prosecutors were working to build more serious sedition and murder cases against such groups if evidence permits and that focusing on militia members and other extremists would be a top priority.
“All of these extremist groups are being looked at in terms of their participation at the Capitol,” Sherwin said.
Federal prosecutors also unsealed charges over the weekend against Robert Gieswein, 24, of Woodland Park, Colo., who they say is affiliated with the Three Percenters. The group’s name is a reference to the purported 3 percent of the U.S. colonial population who rose up to fight against the British army.
The FBI also arrested Guy Wesley Reffitt of Wylie and charged him Saturday with obstruction. The FBI said he belonged to the Texas Freedom Force, a militia extremist group; Reffitt’s wife said he was a member of the Three Percenters.
The deadly assault on the Capitol is expected to be a “significant driver of violence” for armed militia groups and racist extremists in the days ahead, federal authorities have said.
In addition to Reffitt, three others in Texas — including two in Houston — were arrested over the weekend for alleged crimes related to the attack. Daniel Page Adams, suspected of assaulting a police officer during the violent storming of the Capitol, was arrested Saturday near the Houston area.And far-right media personality Tim Gionet, who calls himself “Baked Alaska,” was arrested Saturday in Houston.
In addition, a Dallas-area real estate agent, a retired Air Force officer and several other Texas residents have been charged with crimes tied to the riot.