The arrests of two members of the Patriot Boys militia in northern Texas earlier this week raises new questions about outside funding to pay for tactical gear and travel to Washington, DC on Jan. 6, 2021, and broader coordination among the various groups that led the assault on the US Capitol.
According to the charging document for the two men, Lucas Denney, a US Army veteran and president of the Patriot Boys, recruited Donald Hazard to go to DC on Jan. 6 in a text on Christmas Day in 2020, simultaneously appointing him to serve as “sergeant at arms” for the militia.
“Hey, if your trip is paid for, can you go to DC?” Denney asked Hazard. “Don’t worry about money. Just get the days off if you can.”
The following day, Denney allegedly texted Hazard again, reporting: “Have plenty of money now. I just got a 1 thousand dollar donation from just one person for the trip. I have more donations coming in to [sic].” Denney then asked Hazard if he knew “any other guys that can go that’s like us and will fight, we could use them. And it will be paid for.”
An FBI spokesperson declined to comment on who may have contributed funding to Denney to finance the Patriot Boys’ travel to DC.
The charging document also cites statements by Denney as early as Christmas day that indicate he was communicating with other right-wing paramilitary leaders, including chapter leaders of the Proud Boys, about plans for Jan. 6.
To date, 17 members of the Oath Keepers have been charged with conspiracy to stop, delay or hinder Congress’ certification of the electoral vote. Four different sets of Proud Boys have also been charged with conspiracy to stop, delay or hinder the electoral vote certification, and members of all but one of those sets also face charges of conspiracy to obstruct and interfere with law enforcement officers engaged in their official duties to protect the Capitol. Five men in the California Patriots-DC Brigade and three men in the Patriots 45 MAGA Gang have also been charged in separate conspiracy cases.
All of the defendants in those cases are accused only of conspiring with other members and affiliates of their particular groups. No cases have been brought so far that allege a wider conspiracy involving the multiple groups or unaffiliated individuals involved in the insurrection. But statements by Denney bolster the view that the insurrection involved coordination among the various groups.
“We will need linking up with Proud Boys though,” Denney allegedly told Hazard in a Dec. 25. “I’ve been in contact with a few different chapters and they’re helping us out with safe hotels to get.
“We’ll all be staying in the same hotels that they are,” Denney added.
In a Dec. 31 Facebook message to an unidentified individual, Denney reportedly said: “A lot of the presidents and commanders of militias like myself are meeting on the 5th to organize and plan.” In another message sent at 2:09 a.m. that day, Denney wrote: “I’m still up chatting with all my brothers that are going to DC. All the presidents have been so busy organizing, planning and talking lol.”
Court documents that are publicly available do not indicate whether the Jan. 5 meeting actually took place.
The FBI declined to comment on whether the government plans to bring additional conspiracy charges that outline broader coordination among the various groups and unaffiliated individuals that were involved in the insurrection.
The recent arrests of two other men charged with assaulting law enforcement also point to the Proud Boys as a hub of broader organization for the Jan. 6 attack. The government alleges that Ethan Nordean, a Proud Boys leader in Seattle, texted Ronald Loehrke, a Marine Corps veteran whose name was saved as “Ron (Lisa’s friend)” in Nordean’s phone, and asked if he was coming to DC. Loehrke reportedly confirmed to Nordean that he was planning to make the trip. The government alleges that phone records show Loehrke was in contact with co-defendant James Haffner during the same time period.
Both Denney and Nordean used the term “front line” to describe where they expected fighters to be positioned in DC on Jan. 6, according to charging documents.
“I’m so pumped, brother,” Denney reportedly said in a Jan. 1 Facebook comment. “I can’t wait to be in the middle of it on the front line on the 6th.”
And according to the charging document for Ronald Loehrke and James Haffner, Nordean texted Loehrke on Dec. 27 to tell him he wanted him “on the front line” with him. Loehrke reportedly responded by saying, “Sounds good,” adding that he planned to bring three “Bad mother f*ckers” with him.
True to his word, Denney fought law enforcement on the west plaza of the Capitol. According to the government, he “grabbed and shoved a police officer,” attempted to grab a canister of crowd-control spray from another officer before swinging a long metal pole at him, and then launched a large tube toward a line of officers.
Later, according to the government, Denney relocated to the Lower West Terrace and joined a crowd of rioters in the tunnel, where they pushed a riot shield into and on top of a line of Metropolitan police officers. When Officer Michael Fanone was pulled into the crowd and down the steps about three minutes later, the government alleges that Denney swung his arm and fist at Fanone, grabbed him and pulled him further down the stairs.
Like Denney, Hazard is also accused of assaulting law enforcement at the Capitol.
Denney and Hazard were arrested earlier this week, and are being held in detention. A detention hearing for Hazard is scheduled for Friday at 1 p.m. in federal court in Fort Worth.
Similarly, the government alleges that Loehrke and Haffner positioned themselves near the front of a line of US Capitol police officers assembled in riot gear on the west plaza.
Loehrke reportedly admonished the other rioters for allowing themselves to be stopped by 25 officers. “Don’t back down, patriots!” he said. “The whole f*cking world is watching. Stand the f*ck up today!”
Multiple statements in the 42-page charging documents outlining Denney and Hazard’s alleged offenses indicate that funds donated to Patriot Boys were used to pay for tactical equipment, along with travel and lodging.
“I want to pick you up and take you to get a helmet and pick up some other gear,” Denney reportedly said to Hazard in a text on Dec. 30. Later, Denney told Hazard that he had “picked us each up a bottle of police grade pepper spray from the Fort Worth Police store…. I’ll have you a vest, too.”
And Denney reportedly thanked another unidentified individual for donating and said, “If you know anyone else that can donate, let them know about us. I still need more protective gear for some more of my guys and other supplies before we leave Sunday.”
It is unclear whether anyone else traveled to DC with Denney and Hazard, but in a Dec. 30 text message to Hazard, Denney is said to have reported that “we have 3 guys so far.” In a Facebook message to an unidentified individual on the same day, Denney reportedly said, “I have 5 of my guys going but I’m linking up with over 300 in DC.” In another message, Denney mentioned that “two of the guys” still needed helmets, vests and medical equipment.
Beyond outside funding, coordination with the Proud Boys and other “militia” groups, the Denney-Hazard charging document indicates that Denney had foreknowledge that something significant was going to happen at the Capitol on Jan. 6. In a Facebook message to an unidentified individual on Dec. 29, Denney reported; “Got the room booked and plans to meet with about 1 thousand other guys that we are all in a Intel chatroom together.”
On Dec. 30, Denney reportedly shared two similar digital posters on Facebook, each with the hashtage #OccupyCongress, along with the date of Jan. 6, 2021. One read, “Stand up! Get Loud!” It specified the time to be at the Capitol as “noon.” Rioters initially breached the entrance of the Pennsylvania Avenue Walkway leading onto the Capitol grounds at 12:50 p.m., while President Trump was still speaking at the Ellipse.
The other #OccupyCongress poster shared by Denney included the text, “If they won’t hear us, they will fear us. Election fraud is the reason.”
According to the charging document, Denney told an unidentified individual on Facebook: “Trump is calling this rally himself. It’s the day that Congress is going to try and certify the electoral college. But Pence can deny the ones coming from the states where the fraud took place. So, we are thinking Trump wants us there to keep the area from being burned down by antifa thugs when they get mad…. Biden ain’t getting into office.”
Denney’s statement about the purpose of going to DC echoed a comment made by Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes on Christmas day in a Signal thread for Florida members of the militia group.
“I think Congress will screw [Trump over],” Rhodes reportedly said in the “OKFL Hangout” thread. “The only change [sic] we/he has is if we scare the shit out of them and convince them it will be torches and pitchforks time is [sic] they don’t do the right thing. But I don’t think they will listen.”
In his text exchange with Hazard on Christmas day, Denney promised, “So, the 6th is going to be bigger than the last rally. I can’t tell you everything I know over media here but it’s gonna be big. Millions and millions will be there, I can tell you that.”
To an unidentified individual on Facebook, Denney messaged on Jan. 5: “Things are going to be happening here. Trump is going to be speaking to everyone Wed before everyone marches to the capital. Rumour has it that he may march with us. I’ll tell you more when you get here on where to be and what time so you have the best seats.”
Steve Bannon, the former White House strategist and the CEO of Trump’s 2016 campaign, reportedly made a similar statement to his podcast listeners on Jan. 5.
“All hell will break loose tomorrow,” Bannon said. “It will be quite extraordinarily different. All I can say is, strap in. Tomorrow is game day. So many people said, ‘Man, if I was in a revolution I would be in Washington.’ Well, this is your time in history.”
In the early morning hours of Jan. 6, Denney relayed the message to a friend on Facebook.
“Trump speaking to us around 11am; then we march to the capital and after that we have special plan that I can’t say right now over Facebook,” Denney wrote. “But keep an eye out for live feed tomorrow from me. Tomorrow will be historic.”