More Oath Keeper Suspects Charged in Capitol Riot Plot
Echoing earlier filings, the new indictment notes that on Jan. 4, Mr. Rhodes issued a call to action on his organization’s website urging “all patriots” to “stand tall in support of President Trump’s fight to defeat the enemies foreign and domestic who are attempting a coup.” The repeated references in the filings to Mr. Rhodes, a former soldier and a graduate of Yale Law School, suggest that prosecutors may be trying to build a case against him as well.
According to prosecutors, the Oath Keepers began conspiring to overturn the election not long after votes were cast in November. On Nov. 9, prosecutors say, Ms. Watkins, a 38-year-old bar owner from Ohio, sent a text message to several recruits telling them they needed to be “fighting fit” by Inauguration Day. Shortly after, court papers say, she suggested to her recruits that they use the chatting app Zello to communicate with one another during “operations.”
When asked by a recruit the following week what 2021 might hold, Ms. Watkins admitted that Mr. Biden might actually become the president, prosecutors say. “If he is, our way of life as we know it is over,” she wrote. “Our Republic would be over. Then it is our duty as Americans to fight, kill and die for our rights.”
In early December, court papers say, another person charged in the case, Graydon Young, 54, reached out to the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers looking to become involved with the group while Mr. Crowl, a Navy veteran from Virginia, attended a training camp in North Carolina. By the end of the month, the militia members had set their eyes on Mr. Trump’s Jan. 6 event in Washington and were arranging lodging in the city and coordinating with other groups of Oath Keepers coming up from North Carolina and Mississippi, prosecutors say.
On Christmas Day, court papers say, Mr. Meggs wrote a Facebook message noting that guns were not allowed in Washington and suggesting that he might instead bring “mace and gas masks, some batons” to the event. Days later, prosecutors say, he wrote online about a “QRF,” or a Quick Reaction Force, that would could accompany the Oath Keepers to Washington. That echoed comments made by Mr. Caldwell who had also written messages about creating a team of armed militia members stationed outside of Washington that could rush to the aid of those inside the city, prosecutors say.
On Jan. 4, court papers say, the suspects began making their way to Washington. Mr. Young traveled from North Carolina, staying at the Hilton Garden Inn with his sister, Laura Steele, another defendant in the case. Mr. Crowl, Ms. Watkins and the married couple, Bennie and Sandra Parker, all drove from Ohio. Mr. Caldwell, arriving from Virginia, paid for a room for two at a Comfort Inn in the Washington suburbs, prosecutors say. Ms. Watkins reserved her own room there, court papers say, as did the Parkers.
The day before the attack, Mr. and Mrs. Meggs were photographed providing security at a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court where Mr. Trump’s onetime adviser, Roger Stone, spoke.