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Conspiracy charges filed against alleged militia members in Capitol riot

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Prosecutors filed conspiracy charges related to the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6, saying in a new complaint that three rioters had acted in an “organized and practiced fashion” and at one point appeared to suggest the possibility of gassing lawmakers in the tunnels below the building.

A search of the home of one of the three people also turned up directions for making explosives from bleach, according to the affidavit filed in support of the complaint.

The three were allegedly part of a group that approached the east side of the Capitol and tried to push their way through a set of center doors in between the House and the Senate wings as a separate mob of pro-Trump supporters battled a thin line of police officers on the west entrance during the riot. The complaint is among the first to charge multiple alleged members of the mob with conspiracy in connection with the events of Jan. 6.

Around eight to 10 people wearing helmets, reinforced vests and clothing with paraphernalia identifying themselves of the right-wing militia group Oath Keepers moved in a tactical fashion and forced their way to the front of the crowd, a video cited in the complaint shows.

During the breach, one of the members allegedly communicated: “We have a good group. We have about 30-40 of us. We are sticking together and sticking to the plan,” the new complaint said.

The three alleged members of that military formation, including Thomas Edward Caldwell, a 65-year-old from Clarke County, Va., had already been arrested in the past few days on charges of disorderly conduct, obstructing an official proceeding and other crimes. Mr. Caldwell and the two others he allegedly collaborated with were charged in an amended complaint filed Monday that accused them also of conspiring to injure officers and destroying government property. An attorney for Mr. Caldwell couldn’t immediately be located for comment.

During the riot, Mr. Caldwell allegedly received a Facebook message that said: “All members are in the tunnels under capital seal them in. Turn on gas,” the affidavit said. In another message, Mr. Caldwell was allegedly also told: “Tom all legislators are down in the Tunnels 3floors down,” and “Do like we had to do when I was in the core start tearing oit florrs go from top to bottom,” the affidavit said, replicating apparent spelling errors.

Several affidavits described the Oath Keepers, which recruit primarily from military and law-enforcement personnel, as a “large but loosely organized collection of militia who believe that the federal government has been co-opted by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights.” [Continue reading…]

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