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 extremist 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 obstruction of justice.
On Sunday evening, Donovan Crowl, 50, a former U.S. Marine, and Jessica Watkins, 38, an Army veteran, turned themselves in to authorities in Ohio after they published photos of themselves on social media wearing combat gear and saying that they had stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 in order to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College victory of President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.
The F.B.I. said that Ms. Watkins’s group is a unit of the Oath Keepers and that she and Mr. Donovan were wearing Oath Keepers patches.
The recent arrests of veterans and former law enforcement 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 chilling scenes of rioters in tactical gear weaving through the mobs inside the Capitol in tight formation, wearing tactical gear, carrying restraints, and using hand signals to communicate.
Michael R. Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney in Washington, said on Friday that his prosecutors were working to build more serious sedition and murder cases against such groups if the 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,” Mr. Sherwin said.
Federal prosecutors also unsealed charges this 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 three percent of the U.S. colonial population who rose up to fight against the British army.
Mr. Gieswein, who runs a private paramilitary training group called the Woodland Wild Dogs, was among the early wave of invaders to breach the building, court papers say. Photographs from the attack show him clad in a military vest, goggles and an Army-style helmet, wrestling with Capitol Police officers to remove metal barricades and brandishing a baseball bat. In a criminal complaint, prosecutors cite a video that shows Mr. Gieswein encouraging other rioters as they smash a window at the Capitol with a wooden board and a plastic shield, and then climbing through the broken glass into the building.
The F.B.I. also arrested Guy Wesley Reffitt of Texas and charged him on Saturday with obstruction. The F.B.I. said he belonged to the Texas Freedom Force, a militia extremist group, while Mr. 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 recently issued intelligence bulletins.
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