3 members of far-right group Oath Keepers indicted for participation in pro-Trump Capitol riot
WASHINGTON - Three individuals who are allegedly associated with the Oath Keepers — a radical, far-right antigovernment group — were indicted for conspiring to obstruct Congress by participating in the pro-Trump Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Jessica Marie Watkins, 38, Donovan Ray Crowl, 50, and Thomas Caldwell, 65, were all charged with "conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding, destruction of government property and unlawful entry on restricted building or grounds," according to the DOJ.
Court documents revealed that Watkins, Crowl and Caldwell had allegedly been in communication since November in order to coordinate their "attack" at the Capitol, the DOJ stated in a news release. Their discussions allegedly varied from "logistics, including lodging options, coordinating calls to discuss the plan, and joining forces with other Oath Keeper chapters," the DOJ said.
"On Dec. 31, 2020, Caldwell posted, ‘THIS IS OUR CALL TO ACTION, FREINDS! SEE YOU ON THE 6TH IN WASHINGTON, D.C. ALONG WITH 2 MILLION OTHER LIKE-MINDED PATRIOTS,’" the DOJ stated in a news release. "In a subsequent post on Jan. 2, 2021, Caldwell stated, ‘It begins for real Jan 5 and 6 on Washington D.C. when we mobilize in the streets. Let them try to certify some crud on capitol hill with a million or more patriots in the streets. This kettle is set to boil…’"
A criminal complaint filed on Jan. 19 alleged that the three defendants kept track of their whereabouts in and around the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 via social media.
FILE - US President Donald Trump's supporters gather outside the Capitol building. (Probal Rashid/LightRocket via Getty Images)
RELATED: Capitol riot: Officials working to identify those involved in deadly pro-Trump insurrection
Caldwell allegedly posted on Facebook detailing the moments before crowds of pro-Trump supporters surged on the Capitol. The posts stated things such as, "We are surging forward. Doors breached[.]" and "Inside," according to the DOJ.
Meanwhile, Watkins allegedly published photos of herself, along with Crowl, on her Parler account with the caption, "Me before forcing entry into the Capitol Building. #stopthesteal2 #stormthecapitol #oathkeepers #ohiomilitia," according to the DOJ.
The DOJ alleges that Watkins followed up her photos with a video post where she appeared to be bragging that teargas was deployed as crowds of intruders broke into the Capitol Building.
"Yeah. We stormed the Capitol today. Teargassed, the whole, 9. Pushed our way into the Rotunda. Made it into the Senate even. The news is lying (even Fox) about the Historical Events we created today," the post read, according to the DOJ.
In addition to the communications discovered on Facebook and Parler, FBI agents were able to obtain audio recordings from Zello, which is an app that allows you to utilize your phone like a walkie-talkie, between Watkins and other suspected Oath Keepers members.
"‘We have a good group. We have about 30-40 of us. We are sticking together and sticking to the plan.’ An unknown male responds, ‘We’ll see you soon, Jess. Airborne,’" the audio said, according to the DOJ.
Watkins and Crowl were arrested on Jan. 18. Caldwell was arrested on Jan. 19. All three could serve more than 20 years in prison if convicted.
The Oath Keepers "claims tens of thousands of present and former law enforcement officials and military veterans as members, is one of the largest radical antigovernment groups in the U.S. today. While it claims only to be defending the Constitution, the entire organization is based on a set of baseless conspiracy theories about the federal government working to destroy the liberties of Americans," according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The insurrection that took place at the Capitol in early January resulted in the deaths of five people, including a Capitol Police officer.
RELATED: Years of white supremacy threats culminated in Capitol insurrection
The rampage shocked the world and left the country on edge, forcing the resignations of three top Capitol security officials over the failure to stop the breach. Lawmakers demanded a review of operations and an FBI briefing over what they called a "terrorist attack."
The ATF and FBI are still searching for many of those suspected of using "explosive devices, or violent, destructive acts associated with the recent unrest." So far, more than 150 rioters at the U.S. Capitol have been arrested.
Anyone with information can call 1-888-ATF-TIPS (1-888-283-8477), email ATFTips@atf.gov or submit information anonymously via ReportIt.com.
For digital material or tips, call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or submit images or videos at fbi.gov/USCapitol.
The Associated Press and FOX News contributed to this report.