Prosecutors blow up GOP denials about Capitol rioters: 'This was a heavily armed crew'

Conservatives have defended the Capitol rioters by pointing out they weren't carrying firearms, but that doesn't mean they weren't carrying weapons.

Charging documents show participants in the Jan. 6 insurrection carried stun guns, chemical irritants, baseball bats and flagpoles they used as clubs, and one person who remains at large planted pipe bombs near the headquarters of the Democratic and Republican parties the night before the siege, reported NPR.

"This was a pretty heavily armed crew of people compared to what you usually see at protests," said Heidi Beirich, a co-founder of the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism. "Even when you see people who are armed at protests in states, for example, where they have open-carry laws, they aren't storming into a building using the weapons in the way that we saw at the Capitol."

Police certainly felt threatened by Donald Trump's supporters and the weapons they carried into the Capitol.

"I've talked to officers who have done two tours in Iraq who said this was scarier to them than their time in combat," said acting Washington, D.C., police chief Robert Contee III in January.

Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick died one day after two rioters sprayed him and other officers with an unknown chemical substance, and four other people also died during the insurrection and more than 100 officers suffered a variety of injuries.

"There were a lot of weapons that could be lethal weapons as applied," said Lorenzo Boyd, a former director of the Center for Advanced Policing at the University of New Haven. "If you see a lot of resistance and you're being outgunned, outmanned, outpowered, you tend to kind of fall back a little bit."

Rioters allegedly bludgeoned law enforcement officers with hockey sticks, flagpoles and fire extinguishers, according to court documents, and many carried high-power stun guns and similar less lethal weapons that posed a grave threat to police.

"In America, we have this thought that everything is focused on a gun, on a firearm," Boyd said, "and we miss the fact that so many other people are killed with so many other weapons."