National Security

Prosecutors: Oath Keepers kept weapons at hotel in case violence escalated on Jan. 6

Federal prosecutors have uncovered evidence that members of the antigovernment Oath Keepers group plotted to stash weapons at a hotel in Arlington, Va., during the events of the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol in case violence was used against rioters, according to court filings.

ABC News reported Tuesday that a court document filed this week in the case against Kenneth Harrelson, one of the group’s members charged in connection with the Jan. 6 riot, stated that group members discussed stashing firearms at a Comfort Inn in Arlington due to their knowledge that such firearms were not permitted in Washington, D.C.

The weapons were set to be handed out to members of a “Quick Reaction Force” made up of Oath Keepers that would head to Washington with firearms if the scene had escalated, though it was unclear whether the group’s members intended to use the firearms against law enforcement or potential counterprotesters.

Prosecutors say the Quick Reaction Force team was not specifically designated to target the Capitol and was prepared to deploy around D.C. in the event of violence against the mob that stormed the Capitol or their belief that former President Trump would declare martial law and suspend the certification of the 2020 election, a central tenet of the QAnon conspiracy theory.

“Where can we drop off weapons to the QRF team?” one of Harrelson’s co-defendants, Jessica Watkins, allegedly wrote two days prior to the attack, according to prosecutors. “I’d like to have the weapons secured prior to the Op tomorrow.”

“He is committed to being the quick reaction force an[d] bringing the tools if something goes to hell,” read a text message from another Oath Keeper charged in connection to the Jan. 6 riot, Thomas Caldwell, to other group members, according to prosecutors.

Harrelson, the prosecutors continued, “was both aware of the presence of an armed Quick Reaction Force and likely contributed weapons to it,” according to ABC.

The court filing is some of the clearest evidence yet that federal authorities believe violence on Jan. 6, which already resulted in five deaths including one among Capitol Police and also saw dozens of officers injured, could have seriously escalated and caused further bloodshed.

Two other Capitol Police officers died from suicide in the weeks after Jan. 6, and hundreds have now been charged for their various roles in the violence of that day.

Tags Capitol breach Donald Trump U.S. Capitol riot

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