More than six months after the storming of the US Capitol, more than 550 people have been arrested, with an estimated 800 people surging into the building during the hours-long assault. Members of the Oath Keepers, a loosely organized right-wing paramilitary, and Proud Boys street fighters galvanized by then-President Trump's call to "stand back and stand by" have been indicted on conspiracy to disrupt Congress, which delayed the certification of Joe Biden as president by almost six hours.
"Every single person charged, at the very least, contributed to the inability of Congress to carry out the certification of our presidential election," prosecutors wrote in memorandum filed with the court on Tuesday.
The slow-moving tedium of prosecutorial legal machinery and the GOP campaign to deflect responsibility can make it easy to lose sight of the big picture of what transpired on Jan. 6. But based on an aggregate review of individuals cases, along with other sources, a Raw Story analysis of the critical events in the Jan. 6 siege reveals a striking degree of coordination, sustained and intentional violence, planning and preparation, and determined effort to disable the United States' critical governance apparatus by participants, including many with recent military experience. Many of the rioters who played critical roles in breaching the Capitol came away from the experience vowing to wage war against the United States. Few among those who are being prosecuted have expressed any remorse for their actions.
Amid the hundreds of prosecutions of Trump supporters motivated by the big lie, the GOP has punished lawmakers who fail to bear allegiance to the former president and run afoul of the party line that the election was stolen, while thwarting the House investigation into the events of Jan. 6. GOP intransigence makes it likely that the Democratic-led investigation will become reduced to another partisan snipe-fest, undermining its potential to hold people accountable and prevent future attempts to overturn democracy.
A handful of defendants, including Oath Keepers members, have pleaded guilty, as fresh arrests fatten the docket weekly. Those recently charged are not minor players: In addition to people who trashed media equipment and assaulted reporters, they include the first boogaloo-identified rioter, with hints that there are more to come, and a man who organized a resistance cell under the cover of a Bible study. Critically, the FBI has yet to make an arrest for bombs that were planted outside the Democratic and Republican headquarters on the eve of the insurrection. Even under the most optimistic scenario, the prosecutions are likely to drag on for years: Among the few cases set for trial, white nationalist Christian Secor isn't scheduled to begin deliberations until January 2022.
Beyond the chaotic events that took place when hundreds of Trump supporters unleashed mayhem on the Capitol, it remains unknown to what degree, if any, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers coordinated their actions. And beyond Trump's feverish promotion of the Jan. 6 "Save America" rally and instruction to his followers to "walk down to the Capitol," it also remains to be seen whether the siege may have been directed by the president or his surrogates through intermediaries such as Trump confidant Roger Stone or "Stop the Steal" organizer Ali Alexander.
Notably, the mob began its advance on the Capitol well before Trump had finished speaking at the Ellipse, suggesting that key players had decided in advance to disrupt the certification of the electoral vote, while Trump's exhortations mobilized thousands more to reinforce the riot that was already unfolding at the seat of American government.
'Back the yellow'
On Jan. 5 at 8:28 p.m., some 60 Proud Boys on an encrypted channel named "Boots on the Ground" received instructions from an as-yet-unnamed individual, according to government court documents. "Everyone needs to meet at the Washington Monument at 10 a.m. tomorrow morning!" the message read. "Do not be late! Do not wear colors! Details will be laid out at the pre-meeting. Come out as a patriot!"
Marching towards the Capitol on the morning of Jan. 6, Proud Boys — an anti-democratic group that cloaks its white supremacy under a soft cover of "Western chauvinism" — chanted, "Where's antifa?" Many carried Baofeng walkie-talkies and wore earpieces. The Proud Boys had previously clashed with antifascists adversaries in the streets of Washington DC during pro-Trump rallies on Nov. 14 and Dec. 12, but on Jan. 6 they didn't find any leftists to fight.
Proud Boys' de-facto leader on Jan 6 is raising money 'to make ends meet': report Ethan Nordean
"Back the yellow," Proud Boys leader Ethan Nordean aka Rufio said through a megaphone. Then referring to the arrest of Proud Boys Chairman Enrique Tarrio two days earlier and the stabbing of four members on Dec. 12, Nordean seemed to address the police: "You took our boy in, and you let the stabber go. You guys got to prove your shit to us now. We'll do your goddamn job for ya."
Video livestreamed by California Proud Boy Eddie Block shows that the group had made it to the west side of the Capitol by around 11:20 a.m. Trump had tweeted the day before that he would be speaking at the Ellipse at 11 a.m. Had he started on time, the Proud Boys would have been in place in front of the Capitol while he was speaking. But Trump did not start speaking until noon, leaving the Proud Boys time to kill.
At around 11:47 a.m., the Proud Boys stopped on the east side of the Capitol and milled around. While lining up for a group photo, Proud Boy Dan Scott aka Milkshake yelled, "Let's take the f***ing Capitol." An unidentified individual admonished him: "Let's not f***ing yell that, all right?"
About five minutes after the photo op, Block's livestream shows that the group started moving north towards Constitution Avenue. The Proud Boys took a break next to a row of food trucks outside of the Department of Labor for roughly 35 minutes.
While the Proud Boys were eating and resting, Trump was addressing his supporters a mile and a half away at the Ellipse.
"We're going to walk down to the Capitol, and we're going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women," he said. "We're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them because you'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong."
Christopher Quaglin, an unemployed electrician from New Jersey, livestreamed himself walking towards the Capitol.
"Trump is speaking and everyone is walking there," Quaglin said. "And I am walking there." He turned his camera to show the Capitol.
"And I am ready," Quaglin said, holding up a gas mask for viewers to see. "We will see how it goes. Proud of your boy."
At about 12:43 p.m., Ethan Nordean announced to the Proud Boys gathered beside the food trucks that they would be heading to the "roundabout," likely referring to Peace Circle, which aligns with the northwest approach to the Capitol.
Proud Boys leader Charles Donohoe (right) carried a riot shield that fellow Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola (left) stole from police and later used to shatter a Capitol window, allowing rioters to stream inside.(YouTube screengrabs courtesy US government)
Charles Donohoe, later described by a magistrate judge as a "trusted senior lieutenant" who was responsible for ensuring the group's secure communications," walked some distance ahead. A Marine Corps veteran, Donohoe served as president of the North Carolina Piedmont chapter of the Proud Boys. Nordean led the march, along with Joe Biggs, an Army veteran described by his lawyer in a legal filing as "a mainstay Proud Boy planner and organizer since 2018," and Zach Rehl, president of the Philadelphia chapter. The group paused for a moment on First Street, and Billy Chrestman, from the Kansas City chapter, conferred briefly with Nordean.
Around 12:45 p.m., as Trump was still speaking, the Proud Boys converged with a large crowd at Peace Circle, according to court documents. Along with Nordean, Biggs, Donohoe, Rehl, Block and Chrestman, the group included Proud Boys Dominic Pezzola, Matthew Greene and William Pepe. Pezzola, a Marine Corps veteran from Rochester, and Greene, an Army National Guard veteran with combat experience in Afghanistan, had traveled to DC together from Syracuse. Pepe, who was employed by the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority, had worked until midnight on Jan. 5, and spontaneously decided to drive through the night, according to a filing by his lawyer. Pepe had met Pezzola for the first time at a protest on Dec. 5, according to a filing on Pepe's behalf.
'Extensive history of violent and assaultive behavior'
While the Proud Boys and other Trump supporters massed at Peace Circle, Ryan Samsel of Bucks County, Pa. walked over to chat with Biggs, video from a recent New York Times visual investigation shows. It's not clear what they discussed. Federal investigators would later discover what government lawyers describe as "an extensive history of violent and assaultive behavior and of intimidation of witnesses" on Samsel's part. In opposing pre-trial release for Samsel, a government lawyer would write that Samsel's history showed a pattern of "choking and beating women to the point of loss of consciousness, of many hospital visits for many victims, of chipped and missing teeth, and of Samsel even breaking into a victim's home multiple times to assault her."
Biggs' lawyer, J. Daniel Hull, told Raw Story his client didn't know Samsel. "Joe doesn't know him," he said. "Never heard that name."
About a minute after speaking with Biggs, Samsel walked toward the barricades. As the first person to confront US Capitol police officers blocking the path, Samsel was in effect the spearpoint of the initial attack on the Capitol. According to a statement of facts supporting Samsel's charges, he and others pushed and pulled on the barricades, a series of metal bike racks reinforced with plastic mesh netting. In the process of throwing the barricades to the ground, they reportedly knocked over a police officer, causing her to hit her head on the stairs behind her, causing her to lose consciousness.
"We don't have to hurt you, why are you standing in our way?" Samsel reportedly said, while picking her up off the ground. The officer, referenced in court documents as "O-1," was directed to go back to the West Terrace at the Capitol to regroup. Hours later, according to the government, she would black out and collapse while arresting another rioter and had to be transported to a local hospital, where she was diagnosed with a concussion.
After Samsel dismantled the first set of barriers, Proud Boys and other rioters streamed down the walkway. At the second set of barriers, Pepe and another rioter grabbed one of the bike racks and dragged it aside to allow the crowd to advance to a police line guarding the plaza on the west side of the Capitol, according to a government filing. (In a legal filing on Pepe's behalf, his lawyer described the scene differently: "People ahead of him threw barricades in his direction forcing him to push them out of the way to avoid being hit by them.")
Pezzola was one the first to reach the next police line, which was quickly overwhelmed by the crowd, according to the government. As rioters were pouring onto the plaza on the western side of the Capitol, Congress began the tally of electoral votes and Vice President Mike Pence released a letter declaring he did not have unilateral authority to overturn the results. Trump concluded his speech at the Ellipse at 1:11 p.m., reinforcing his call to action.
"So, we're going to, we're going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue," Trump said. "We're going to give our Republicans, the weak ones, because the strong ones don't need any of our help, we're going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country."
As scuffles broke at the Lower West Terrace in front of the Capitol, Pezzola wrested a riot shield away from a US Capitol police officer. During the melee, the government alleges that Donohoe helped Pezzola carry the shield, and that Donohoe reported in a group message to fellow Proud Boys on Telegram: "Got a riot shield."
'Lords of war'
By the time of the Capitol insurrection, Pezzola had become a celebrated figure in the Proud Boys, earning the praise of Chairman Enrique Tarrio for a news photo that showed him striking a menacing pose at the front of a line of Proud Boys in DC on Dec. 12. Tarrio shared the photo on Parler on Dec. 31, writing, "Lords of War. #J6 #J12."
Other Proud Boys were also in the thick of the action. Billy Chrestman can be seen in video published by the New York Times rallying the mob with his back to the police line, shouting, "Whose House is it?... Do you want your House back?... Take it!" Around the same time, the government alleges that Christopher Worrell, a Proud Boy from Naples, Fla., sprayed pepper gel at police. The New York Times footage also shows rioters throwing bike racks.
Around 1:35 p.m., some in the crowd turned their focus from the plaza to a set of steps encased by scaffolding that had been set up for the inauguration. Worrell and Dan Scott aka Milkshake were positioned in the front line of that fight with officers at the lightly guarded entrance to the staircase. Footage shows the heavyset Scott heave his body against the police line and then briefly fall back, and others take advantage of an officer lunging at Scott to break through the line. The decision to take the staircase is described by the Times as a "pivotal move," noting that it provided "direct access to an upper level — and dozens of doors and windows."
Among the first to ascend the stairs were Pezzola and Greene, the Proud Boys from central New York, along with Robert Gieswein, a Colorado Three Percenter dressed in full tactical gear and carrying a baseball bat who had marched with the Proud Boys.
While one group moved up the staircase, more rioters poured onto the Lower West Terrace. Less than 10 minutes after the staircase entrance was overrun, Jonathan Pollock, Olivia Pollock, Joseph Hutchinson, Joshua Doolin and Michael Perkins — all from Florida — moved into the plaza. Jonathan Pollock and an unknown person charged the police line with flagpoles, according to the government. Hutchison and another person grabbed a fence and pulled it away, allowing rioters to surge into the police line. Pollock reportedly jumped over other rioters to attack the police, grabbing an officer and pulling them down a short set of steps. After going down in a pile, Pollock is accused of punching two police officers and choking a third.
One rioter accused of sustained and continuous assaults on police is Christopher Quaglin, who reportedly accosted Metropolitan police officers on the Lower West Terrace at 1:36 p.m., yelling, "You don't want this fight. You do not want this f***ing fight. You are on the wrong side. You're going to bring a f***ing pistol, I'm going to bring f***ing cannon."
More than 30 minutes later, still battling police on the Lower West Terrace Plaza, Quaglin is accused of shoving an officer. A government motion in Quaglin's case indicates that Quaglin was seen interacting with Proud Boys leader Ethan Nordean, and prosecutors also say Nordean grabbed Quaglin by the shoulder to stop him after he pushed the officer.
In a motion filed on behalf of Nordean, his lawyer wrote, "Nordean notes that he does not know — or have any relationship with — Quaglin."
Quaglin at one time claimed to be a member of the Proud Boys, according to evidence presented by the government. In a Nov. 3 social media post, Quaglin reportedly posted a photo of the Proud Boys, writing, "Proud to be one." But in social media chats from Nov. 6 that were retrieved by investigators, Quaglin indicated he was organizing a group of his own. "I have been beginning a group for 2 years," he wrote. "Proud boys don't even know about it."
Court documents also indicate Quaglin told an acquaintance that he was considering joining the Proud Boys and had met with members of the organization in New York.
Regardless of whether he was a member of the Proud Boys or not, he was familiar enough with the group to post on social media on Dec. 26 about his plans for Jan. 6: "Bigger the group the better. And we aren't repping any proud boy colors Fyi. Keeping it as invisible as we can."
That was three days before Chairman Enrique Tarrio posted on Parler: "The Proud Boys will turn out in record numbers on Jan 6th but this time with a twist." He continued: "We will not be wearing our traditional Black and Yellow. We will be incognito and we will spread across downtown DC in smaller teams."
'Patriots storming the Capitol building'
At 2:13 p.m., while members of the House and Senate deliberated in their respective chambers over an objection filed by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola used the stolen riot shield to smash out a window accessed from the West Terrace.
Michael Sparks of Kentucky was the first rioter to enter the Capitol through breached window, according to the Times investigation. The first group through window included Pezzola; Robert Gieswein, the Three Percenter wielding a baseball bat; QAnon follower Doug Jensen; Kevin Seefried, carrying a Confederate flag; and his son, Hunter Seefried.
FBI flooded with over 230,000 tips as they hunt hundreds more ... www.rawstory.com
Almost immediately, an unidentified man wearing a helmet kicked open the adjacent doors, allowing more rioters to enter the Capitol. Joe Biggs, the Proud Boys planner and organizer, walked through the doors about two minutes later. In the first five minutes, Zachary Alam, a laid-off hotel concierge from Washington DC, also entered the building through the compromised doors.
The Oath Keepers, a competing far-right group, mobilized slowly, relative to the Proud Boys.
Around the same time that Pezzola breached the Capitol on the west side, the Oath Keepers' designated "ground leader" for Jan. 6 — a man known as "Whip" — wrote in the group's Leadership Signal chat: "The [sic] have taken ground at the capital[.] We need to regoup any members who are not on mission."
Roughly 20 minutes later, according to the government, Oath Keepers Roberto Minuta, Joshua James and Jonathan Walden would race towards the Capitol in golf carts, swerving around police vehicles, after Minuta and James provided a personal security detail to Trump confidant Roger Stone.
"Patriots are storming the Capitol building; there's violence against patriots by the DC police, so we're en route in a grand theft auto golf cart to the Capitol building right now," Minuta reportedly yelled. "It's going down, guys; it's literally going down right now. Patriots storming the Capitol building…. F***ing war in the streets right now…. Word is they got in the building…. Let's go."
'Mind-blowing' range of charges coming for hundreds in Capitol coup — including 'sedition and conspiracy' A pro-Trump mob enters the U.S. Capitol Building on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C.. - Win McNamee/AFP North America/TNS
There is some evidence of communication between the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys related to Jan. 6. Kelly Meggs, who would be named Florida "state lead" for the Oath Keepers, mentioned an alliance to an acquaintance in a Dec. 19 Facebook message sent the day after the second pro-Trump rally in DC.
"Well, we are ready for the rioters," Meggs wrote. "This week I organized an alliance between Oath Keepers, Florida 3%ers and Proud Boys. We have decided to work together to shut this shit down."
Beyond his reference to "rioters," the timing of Meggs' statement — one day after right-wing Trump supporters clashed with leftist adversaries — strongly suggests that the target of Meggs' proposed alliance was antifascist counter-protesters, not the US government or law enforcement.
"Plus, we have made contact with PB and they always have a big group," Meggs wrote in a Facebook message a couple days later. "Force multiplier."
Then, he added: "I figure we could splinter off the main group of PB and come up behind them. F***ing crush them for good."
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and Proud Boys Chairman Enrique Tarrio met briefly in a DC hotel parking garage on the eve of the Capitol insurrection, but there's no evidence they discussed plans for the events of the following day. Footage from a Channel 4 documentary shows the two men introducing themselves to one another. "I don't consider him an enemy; I didn't consider him an enemy before — we just had our differences," Tarrio later told the interviewer. "We don't normally work with other groups. That's just not…."
While the Oath Keepers were scrambling to get in place on the east side of the Capitol, rioters were streaming into the building from the west side thanks to the entry breached by Pezzola. According to the New York Times, it took only two minutes for rioters to make it from the breach to the Senate doors. As the Times investigation details, Officer Eugene Goodman rushed downstairs as the Senate was being evacuated and intercepted the rioters.
"Where are they counting the votes?" a rioter can be heard shouting at Goodman. The Times footage shows lawmakers fleeing behind the rioters, with only one officer standing guard.
The link between Trumpland, QAnon, evangelical culture and child-sex predators Jacob Chansley, the so-called "QAnon Shaman.© Win McNamee, AFP
Goodman ran up the stairs, pursued by QAnon follower Doug Jensen, luring them into a hallway where backup officers were waiting. In addition to Jensen, the mob at that point included Robert Gieswein; Kevin Siefried; brothers Jerod and Joshua Hughes from Montana; and Jacob Chansley, the so-called "QAnon Shaman."
"He believed he was preventing the certification of President Biden," Judge Timothy J. Kelly said during Jensen's detention hearing on Tuesday. "He thought he was taking part in actions that would result in arrest of members of Congress and Vice President Pence."
Before ordering Jensen's release, Kelly observed that Jensen "recognizes he bought into a pack of lies." While noting that Jensen's expressions of remorse might have an element of convenience considering that he's facing serious criminal charges, Kelly said "they do distinguish Mr. Jensen from many other defendants."
A Marine leads the charge through the Columbus Doors
About 10 minutes after Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola breached the Capitol from the West Terrace, a mob was massed outside the Columbus Doors, which provide access to the Rotunda from the east side. Three rioters who had entered the Capitol from elsewhere were trying to push the doors open while US Capitol Police officers battled the mob outside, according to a government filing.
Christopher Warnagiris, an active-duty Marine Corps officer stationed at Quantico, was the first to push through the Columbus Doors, according to prosecutors, at 2:25 p.m. At that moment, Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes summoned his members to the southeast side of the Capitol.
Only a minute earlier, Trump had sent a tweet condemning Vice President Mike Pence, whom his supporters now regarded as a traitor.
Warnagiris entering Columbus Doors, surveillance footage
Once inside the Capitol building, Warnagiris positioned his body near the entrance to keep the door open and reached for other rioters to pull them inside. Charging documents also indicate that Warnagiris struggled with an officer attempting to regain control of the entrance.
As the trickle through the Columbus Doors became a raging stream of euphoric rioters, about 10 Oath Keepers dressed in tactical gear snaked up the outside steps in the "stack" formation with hands on each other's shoulders. Kenneth Harrelson and Jason Dolan, two military veterans from Florida, were already at the top of the steps by then. At about 2:39 p.m., according to the government, the Oath Keepers entered the Capitol building.
Once in the Rotunda, Oath Keepers Jessica Watkins, Donovan Crowl, Sandra Parker, Graydon Young, Laura Steele and William Isaacs headed down a hallway towards the Senate, as rioters chanted "F*** McConnell," but police pushed them back into the Rotunda by deploying chemical irritant, according to the government. With the access to the Senate blocked, Oath Keepers Kelly Meggs, Connie Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jason Dolan and Joseph Hackett started walking southbound towards the House of Representatives.
"He apparently was searching for at least one member of Congress in particular — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi," Judge Amit Mehta reflected in an order to keep Kelly Meggs in pre-trial detention. Mehta cited an exchange on Signal in which an unidentified acquaintance told Meggs on the evening of Jan. 6 that he "was hoping to see Nancy's head rolling down the front steps."
"We looked forward her," Meggs reportedly responded. (Mehta surmised that "forward" was likely a typo and that Meggs actually intended to say, "We looked for her.")
'Break it down!'
Zachary Alam (courtesey DOJ filing)
Zachary Alam, who had entered the Capitol through the window breached by Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola roamed the building for roughly 40 minutes, eventually joining a mob that formed outside the doors to the Speaker's Lobby, adjacent to the House chamber. Thomas Baranyi of New Jersey, Phillip Bromley of Alabama, and Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran and QAnon supporter from San Diego, Calif. also joined the mob. The scene was captured by John Sullivan, a veteran of the previous summer's police accountability protests with a dubious reputation among Black Lives Matter activists. In addition to documenting the events, Sullivan repeatedly encouraged and celebrated the mayhem, and can be heard in his video addressing one of the officers guarding the doors to the Speaker's Lobby by saying, "We want you to go home. I'm recording and there's so many people and they're going to push their way up here. Bro, I've seen people out there get hurt. I don't want to see you get hurt."
As described in an affidavit supporting charges, Alam repeatedly punched the glass panels of the doors, causing the glass to shatter, and then pushed his body against Capitol police officers guarding the door. The Capitol police officers moved aside, as officers in riot gear appeared behind the crowd of rioters. The changeover resulted in a critical gap that allowed Alam and the other rioters to escalate. After the first set of officers withdrew, according to the government, Alam took a helmet from another rioter and struck the middle panel, further shattering it, as others chanted, "Break it down!" and "Let's f***ing go." Babbitt hoisted her body through one of the windows broken out by Alam, and with a single discharge a Capitol police officer on the other side fatally shot her in her front left shoulder. Babbitt fell backwards, instantly becoming a martyr to MAGA loyalists, Proud Boys and an even more extreme faction of white nationalists who advocate for racial separation.
Only three minutes before Babbitt's shooting at 3 p.m., the Washington Post has reported, lawmakers, including Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.) were being evacuated through the Speaker's Lobby.
The government has singled out Alam among the rioters surrounding Babbitt for his "unhinged, violent actions at the front of that volatile mob."
Battle of the Lower West Terrace tunnel
While rioters poured into the Capitol building from both ends, others continued to engage US Capitol police, Metropolitan police and other agencies in a furious battle on the Lower West Terrace, tying up law enforcement resources and resulting in countless injuries. Officers fought to hold their position and deny entry through the prominent entrance leading into the Capitol through a short tunnel and series of glass doorways.
Photosretrieved from Thomas Webster's phone, via DOJ
Among those who joined the battle was Thomas Webster, a retired New York City police officer who had previously worked the security detail for City Hall and Gracie Mansion. Webster is accused of choking a police officer, causing him to lose consciousness and to not be able to breathe for 10 minutes.
Thomas Webster, unsourced photo published by DOJ
By 2:40 p.m., according to a government filing in the prosecution of Pennsylvania resident Robert Morss, rioters had "engulfed" the west side of the Capitol and were "climbing on the scaffolding in front of the build as well as various features of the building."In phone texts with a friend two days earlier, Morss, a Penn State University graduate and Army Ranger veteran with three combat tours in Afghanistan, had written: "Just bring food water and medical shit and we'll be fine!" To another friend on the same day, Morss had texted: "I'll have my plate carrier on as well." He added, "I'm ready for anything and everything brotha."
Robert Morss, Battle of the Tunnel, screen from unsourced YouTube videos via DOJ
The scene at the tunnel on Jan. 6 is described in boilerplate language used by prosecutors in court filings for multiple defendants: "Officers reporting to the scene rushed to the tunnel from within the building while rioters outside of the tunnel continued to summon more men to push their way through the tunnel with a variety of tools and weapons. The tunnel became the point of an intense and prolonged clash between rioters and law enforcement at the United States Capitol."
The rioters displayed remarkable coordination, with Morss taking a prominent role. As described in affidavit supporting charges, a YouTube video shows Morss and other rioters rip a riot shield away from a Metropolitan police officer. Morss or another rioter — it's not clear from the video — yelled, "Send the shield back, send the shield back!" Minutes later, Morss reportedly carried the shield away and passed it to the rioters behind him, who in in turn passed further back into the crowd.
Morrs then walked out of the tunnel and into the crowd near the arched entrance and yelled to the other rioters: "Shield wall!"
"Rioters inside the tunnel use police riot shields and police riot batons to combat uniformed law enforcement officers," an FBI special agent wrote in an affidavit supporting charges against Christopher Quaglin, the unemployed electrician who had been restrained by Proud Boys leader Ethan Nordean earlier in the day. "Rioters can be overheard planning and implementing a rotation of rioters to have the 'fresh' rioters up front to combat law enforcement, with various unidentified individuals yelling 'we need fresh patriots in the front' and 'we need fresh people.' Rioters are heard instructing the front line of rioters to make a 'shield wall' to prevent law enforcement from controlling rioters with oleoresin capsicum spray. Multiple rioters then use the stolen shields to push against the line of officers as additional rioters add their weight and push, too."
Christopher Quaglin in the tunnel, BWC
One of the rioters heard yelling, "We need fresh people," was Federico Klein, then employed in the State Department as a political appointee under President Trump and a Marine Corps veteran.
Another YouTube video shows Quaglin using a stolen shield to push up against officers in the tunnel, according to the government, and then hitting a Metropolitan officer in the side of the neck and face with the shield. Quaglin had recently sprayed OC spray directly in the face of the same officer, who was not wearing a face shield or gas mask, according to the government.
The time and location of the alleged offenses committed by Quaglin are so closely aligned with other rioters that he was indicted for multiple counts of assault alongside three other men — Patrick E. McCaughey III of New York, Tristan Chandler Stevens of Florida, and David Lee Judd of Texas — although no evidence has been presented to indicate that any of the men knew each other before Jan. 6.
By around 3:20 p.m., police had pushed the rioters out of the tunnel, but the battle would yet continue for another two hours.
At 4:17 p.m., according to the government, Morss and other rioters climbed through a broken window into a hideaway office for members of Congress, which had been unoccupied at the time.
"Video posted online showed rioters handing out furniture from the room through the broken window at different times throughout the unrest," an affidavit supporting charges against Morss reads. "Similar furniture (including what appear to be legs of chairs/tables and desk drawers) was then used by other rioters to attack officers guarding the Lower West Terrace doors, as capture by surveillance and BWC footage."
Bring the war home
After the siege, many of the insurrectionists celebrated their accomplishment of delaying certification of the electoral vote for almost six hours. They scrubbed their social media accounts and concealed evidence in anticipation of criminal charges. And some appear to have prepared for a protracted guerrilla war.
In late June, the government filed a motion in support of Proud Boy Matthew Greene's continued detention, citing an interview conducted by the FBI with an unidentified witness who identified Greene as being among "a group of individuals" who described their actions on Jan. 6. "According to W-1, members of this group said that anyone they got their hands on they would have killed, including Nancy Pelosi. W-1 further stated that members of this group, which included Greene, said that they would have killed [Vice President] Mike Pence if given the chance."
In a Signal chat recovered from Greene's phone when agents raided his home on Jan. 18, Greene is alleged to have written, "'We had a f***ing rat in our ranks,' and encouraged the acquaintance to study guerilla warfare tactics based on their time in Afghanistan and to '[b]e prepared to do uncomfortable things' before sending multiple images that appear to reference the death of Ashli Babbitt, the rioter who was shot and killed inside the Capitol on January 6. He concluded, following those images, 'Don't forget what they did," before apparently attempting to make the message self-destruct in an hour."
Consistent with Greene's expression of support for continued resistance, fellow Proud Boy Charles Donohoe pushed back against another member who expressed the view that it would be "too late" once President Biden took office.
"No, it's not," Donohoe replied in a Telegram chat, according to the government. "It's never too late, ever.
"Facial recognition doesn't mean shit when you got a 5.56 green tip," he added, using a term that the government identified as "armor-piercing ammunition for assault rifles."
Zachary Alam was arrested on the run at a motel in eastern Pennsylvania on Jan. 30. The FBI agents who arrested him said his black Chevy truck bore a fictitious plate, and that a second plate stolen from a vehicle in DC more than two years earlier was stashed inside the vehicle. Agents also recovered a burner phone and a copy of Recoil OffGrid magazine, described by the government as catering to "an audience of people interested in living 'off the grid'" and providing "'practical' information about 'key topics you need to be resilient in the face of hardship,' including 'escape and evasion.'"
Similarly, when FBI agents raided Florida Oath Keeper Kenneth Harrelson's house in Titusville, Fla., they reportedly recovered a go-bag with a semi-automatic handgun, a burner phone and three books: The Book of Five Rings; The Bushcraft Field Guide to Trapping, Gathering and Cooking in the Wild; and Technological Slavery: The Collected Writing of Theodore J. Kaczynski aka 'The Unabomber.'
Robert Morss, who had coordinated the shield wall during the battle of the West Terrace tunnel, was arrested on June 11 outside his apartment in the Pittsburgh suburbs while he was leaving to go to his job as a substitute teacher at Shaler Area Middle School. During Morss' arrest, law enforcement recovered three firearms, a military utility bag, tourniquet and military fatigues. They also found a notebook in his car with a handwritten checklist headlined, "Step by Step to Create Hometown Militia." The writings "included a list of names, a list of equipment, and a list of steps, such as 'Battle Drills'; 'Ambush'; and 'Formations,'" according to the government.
Morss' lawyers attempted to downplay the notebook in a response filed on Monday seeking their client's release from detention as he awaits trial.
"Although the government's concern is understandable," the lawyers wrote, "Mr. Morss reports that he utilizes 'journaling' in part as an outlet to express his trauma from serving in combat duty."