THE alleged Oath Keepers leader has been charged with "planning and coordinating" the Capitol riot after being seen "directing a group of 10."
Federal prosecutors on Tuesday accused three far-right militia group members of conspiring to breach the US Capitol on January 6 – a violent event which left five people dead and dozens more injured.
Thomas Caldwell, the 65-year-old alleged leader of the Oath Keepers, was one of the three people charged.
Caldwell – a resident of Clarke County, Virginia, and a retired YS navy veteran – was charged along with two other alleged Oath Keepers, 38-year-old Jessica Watkins and Donovan Ray Crowl, both of Ohio.
He was named in a criminal complaint for taking part in the Capitol riots by President Trump’s supporters.
Caldwell, Watkins, and Crowl were accused of conspiring "to forcibly storm the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021," prosecutors revealed.
They are also accused of conspiring against the United States and to prevent the government from discharging its duties.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the Oath Keepers is a conspiracist group or extremist right-wing militia group who support Donald Trump.
During Caldwell's Tuesday court hearing, prosecutor Christopher Kavanaugh said additional charges against the alleged group leader will "likely" be filed.
"The weight of the evidence here is very much strong,” Kavanaugh said, according to Reuters.
According to court documents, Caldwell used Facebook to "plan and coordinate" the Capitol breach.
During the riot, a message reading: "All members are in the tunnels under capital seal them in. Turn on gas" was sent to Caldwell.
Following the attack, Caldwell sent a video in a message, which read: "Us storming the castle. Please share… I am such an instigator!"
The video footage, which was obtained by investigators, shows approximately eight to 10 alleged members of the Oath Keepers "moving in an organized and practiced fashion" during the January 6 riot.
It also showed them "forcing their way to the front of the crowd gathered around a door to the U.S. Capitol," the FBI said in charging documents.
The group was seen wearing military-grade gear.
Court documents also allege Caldwell wrote: "Proud boys scuffled with cops and drove them inside to hide. Breached the doors.
"One guy made it all the way to the house floor, another to Pelosi’s office. A good time."
A minute later, he allegedly followed up with: "We need to do this at the local level. Lets [sic] storm the capitol in Ohio. Tell me when!"
Investigators said Caldwell helped make hotel arrangements for the group members' stay in Washington, D.C.
According to prosecutors, in an audio message, obtained from the "Stop the Steal J6" channel on the app Zello, Watkins said: "We have a good group. We have about 30-40 of us. We are sticking together and sticking to the plan."
Watkins and Crowl appeared in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on Tuesday, January 19.
When Watkins was questioned by a federal judge if she understood the charges against her, she said: "I understand what you said. I don’t understand how I got them."
Source: Read Full Article