Right-wing militia members from across the country descended upon the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, and new court documents reveal how they strategized in advance of the attack, communicated during the riot, and planned to take lawmakers as hostages.
Those ranks included members from the paramilitary group the Oath Keepers. An apparent leader of the group, 65-year-old Thomas Edward Caldwell, is now facing four federal charges that include conspiracy to commit an offense and obstruction of an official proceeding at the Capitol, as the Hill reports.
“Us storming the castle. Please share. Sharon was right with me! I am such an instigator! She was ready for it man! Didn’t even mind the tear gas,” Caldwell reportedly wrote in a Facebook message sharing video from inside the Capitol building.
The FBI identified Caldwell as a leader of the “large but loosely organized collection of militia,” and court documents accuse him of organizing a group of up to 40 people who were captured on video “aggressively approaching” the Capitol on Jan. 6.
That group included 38-year-old U.S. Army veteran Jessica Watkins, who is reportedly a founder of the Ohio State Regular Militia. Multiple outlets have reported audio of Watkins as she stormed the Capitol building communicating with other militia members. She was eventually arrested on Sunday.
“We have about 30-40 of us. We are sticking together and sticking to the plan,” Watkins, Caldwell’s co-defendant, said while storming the Capitol.
“You are executing citizen’s arrest. Arrest this assembly, we have probable cause for acts of treason, election fraud,” a man replied in audio that was captured through the walkie-talkie app Zello, according to the FBI.
“We are in the main dome right now. We are rocking it. They are throwing grenades, they are fricking shooting people with paint balls. But we are in here,” Watkins said through the app, where the militia group communicated during the riot.
A man then encouraged “Jess,” telling her this is everything they had trained for.
“Get it, Jess. Do your fucking thing. This is what we fucking [unintelligible] up for. Everything we fucking trained for,” the man said, according to the Washington Post.
Federal law enforcement has arrested more than 100 in connection with the riot on Jan. 6 that resulted in the death of five people. Those arrests have included members of the Oath Keepers, as well as the right-wing extremist groups the Proud Boys and the Three Percenters.