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Law enforcement officials lay out evidence Capitol riot was 'coordinated' attack

Top current and former law enforcement officials testifying Tuesday before a joint Senate hearing on the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol told lawmakers that evidence pointed to coordination and planning behind the mob of people that overwhelmed Capitol Police officers during the attack.

Asked by Senate Homeland Security Committee Chair Gary PetersGary PetersAlarming threat prompts early exit, underscoring security fears Five takeaways from dramatic Capitol security hearing Troops defending Capitol sickened by undercooked meat: report MORE (D-Mich.) about what nonclassified evidence he could point to that led him to determine the attack was "coordinated," former Capitol police chief Steven Sund pointed to rioters coming prepared with "climbing gear" and "chemical spray," which he argued had no place at a legitimate demonstration.

"I'm able to provide you a quick overview of why I think it was a coordinated attack. One, people came specifically with equipment. You're bringing in climbing gear to a demonstration. You're bringing in explosives. You're bringing in chemical spray ... you're coming prepared," he told the senators.

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"The fact that the group that attacked our west front [did so] approximately 20 minutes before [former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump State Department appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot Intelligence community investigating links between lawmakers, Capitol rioters Michelle Obama slams 'partisan actions' to 'curtail access to ballot box' MORE's rally] ended, which means that they were planning on our agency not being at what they call 'full strength,' " Sund added.

Sund also pointed to the discoveries of pipe bombs outside of the Republican and Democratic party headquarters, which he said were likely used to draw police resources away from the Capitol during the riot.

Acting D.C. Metropolitan Police Department chief Robert Contee III agreed, telling the senators that he saw "hand signals being used by several of the insurrectionists," as well as radio communication by others.

The statements are some of the clearest evidence yet that officials believe right-wing militia groups were primarily responsible for the violence that occurred on Jan. 6, during which five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died.

A number of individuals linked to various right-wing groups, including the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, have been arrested in the weeks following the attack in connection to the violence, while the FBI's D.C. field office is currently searching for dozens of other people present during the attack.