Six more alleged Oath Keepers charged over Capitol riot
Federal prosecutors announced charges on Friday against six people affiliated with the right-wing paramilitary group Oath Keepers for their roles in the Capitol riot last month.
All six were arrested this week in Florida, North Carolina and Ohio. They are facing various charges, including conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding, which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s office in D.C., all six are being charged as codefendants along with three other people affiliated with the Oath Keepers who had been charged last month.
Graydon Young, 54; Kelly Meggs, 52; and Connie Meggs, 59, were arrested in Florida this week. Laura Steele, 52, was arrested in Greensboro, N.C., on Wednesday. And Sandra Ruth Parker, 62, and Bennie Alvin Parker, 70, were both arrested in Morrow, Ohio, on Thursday.
Authorities had already charged Jessica Marie Watkins of Ohio and two of her companions — Thomas Caldwell of Clarke County, Va., and Donovan Crowl of Champaign County, Ohio — for their roles in the riot. Prosecutors say that Watkins is the leader of the Ohio State Regular Militia, which shares many of its members with the Oath Keepers.
According to the prosecutors, Watkins had been awaiting “activation” from former President Trump in the weeks after the election.
The Oath Keepers are alleged to have conspired together to storm the Capitol to obstruct Congress’s certification of the Electoral College vote. Prosecutors pointed to images and videos of the riot that show members of the group moving through the crowd in a tactical formation called a “stack.”
Kelly Meggs, allegedly a member of a Florida Oath Keepers chapter, sent a Facebook message in late December saying “Trump said It’s gonna be wild!!!!!!! It’s gonna be wild!!!!!!! He wants us to make it WILD that’s what he’s saying. He called us all to the Capitol and wants us to make it wild!!! Sir Yes Sir!!! Gentlemen we are heading to DC pack your s***,” according to a Justice Department press release.
At the same time, according to the prosecutors, Young, who’s also said to be a member of the same Florida chapter, allegedly arranged for a group to receive instruction from a Florida company that specializes in combat and firearms training.
The Justice Department pointed to messages from people in the group that appeared to suggest they were willing to go into the Capitol unarmed on January 6 because they would have a “heavy QRF 10 Min out,” a military acronym for quick reaction force, which are typically units capable of rapid deployment.
In addition to the various charges that all nine are facing, Caldwell and Young are also accused of tampering with evidence for deleting Facebook messages.
It’s unclear if any of the six new defendants are represented by attorneys.
Updated: 6:17 p.m.