Disproportionate number of current and former military personnel arrested in Capitol attack, CNN analysis shows

of those arrested served in the army and two in the National Guard Of the 17 veterans, six are former soldiers, eight are former Marines, two served in the Navy and one served in the Air Force. Their service records show that at least one of them served in Vietnam; others were deployed to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. At least one of them got the Purple Heart. They were demobilized with different ranks, including officers – captain and lieutenant colonel.

And the sixth. In January, serving and former military personnel were accused of declaring war at home and attacking the constitution they had sworn to defend, some even using military equipment and weapons.

An analysis of the charges against some of the veterans shows that prosecutors accuse them of leading the violence and anarchy that derailed President Joe Biden’s confirmation election victory.

There are also alleged links between some former fighters and extremist groups.

Proud Veterans and Boys

CNN tracked down nine accused veterans.

The best known arrestee to date is Joseph Randall Biggs. The 37-year-old is an Army veteran. He is also one of the leaders of the far-right group the Proud Boys, known for its violent confrontations with anti-fascists, or Antifa, during demonstrations in Portland, Oregon, in Washington, D.C..

Biggs has grown into an online extreme right-wing personality with a pompous and sometimes aggressive discourse against women and Antifa.

In 2012, his account @RamboBiggs had numerous tweets reporting sexual violence which were archived by Media Matters For America.

One of them said “Every kiss starts with… Ruthie. — a reference to Rohypnol, the date-rape drug.

Biggs tweeted a battle cry of DEATH TO ANTIFA and urged others to get weapons and ammunition to attend the rally in Portland. His account was suspended by Twitter in 2019 for repeated violations of the terms of service.

A week after his arrest, one of his eponymous online shows was still on the right-wing website. It all started with computer explosions, and the tank fired the letters B-I-G-S.

The sixth. January, Biggs is accused of going way beyond rhetoric.

In a video, CNN showed Jan’s activities. 6, Biggs is seen commanding his troops from Proud Boy and leading them to the Capitol steps.

Federal prosecutors allege he aided, abetted, advised, ordered, induced or coerced others to enter the Capitol illegally by destroying federal property.

He is accused of trespassing on Congressional property, disrupting public order on Capitol Hill and obstructing an official session of Congress.

In the criminal complaint, federal agents claim that Biggs was one of the first to enter the Capitol during the mob attack.

One of Biggs’ proudest boys, Dominic Pezzola, who is accused of several crimes including conspiracy, is seen in a video breaking a Capitol window with a plastic panel that several people climb into before the door is opened.

Attorney Pezzola stated that he was denied contact with his detained client, which he said undermined his ability to mount a meaningful defense.

Hey, Biggs, what can you tell us, says the camera voice in the video the FBI watched. That’s amazing. Biggs responds to the camera outside the Capitol building within 20 seconds of opening the door, the FBI agent says in court documents.

CNN went to Biggs’ home in Ormond Beach, Florida, just north of the Daytona International Highway, to hear what he has to say now that he’s out on bail and under house arrest.

He glanced through the curtain of the door as we identified ourselves, but he remained largely hidden.

When asked if he was a rebel, Biggs replied: Oh, God, no.

But when we insisted on why he was in the Capitol building, he threatened to call the police.

If you don’t leave, I’ll call the police right away, he said, sliding his cell phone behind the curtain to record a video.

Proud boy and future politician

Four hours south of Biggs is the home of Gabriel Garcia, a former Army captain and current Proud Boy extremist, who is also accused of involvement in the riots.

He ran for the Florida House of Representatives as a Republican last year, although he told CNN affiliate WPLG at the time that he had questions about the voting system. People are starting to question the process, he said at the time. Garcia lost in the Republican primary.

He is now charged with committing certain acts during a riot, aiding and abetting, knowingly entering or remaining in a prohibited building or on property without lawful permission, entering by force, and disturbing the peace on Capitol Hill.

According to the federal indictment, Garcia was inside Capitol Hill when he said in the video: We just stormed the Capitol. It’s gonna get ugly.

The statement says he called the police, who tried to stop the siege of the damn traitors.

But when we tried to get comments from him, he didn’t mind calling the Miami-Dade PD.

He is free on $100,000 bail, WPLG reports. His lawyer told the station that he had not committed any acts of violence and did not intend to do so.

Revolutionary call, reportedly from a rescue dog.

In Longview, Texas, between Dallas and the Louisiana border, Ryan Nichols lives in a gated community with big houses and big lawns.

A neighbor called the police and tried to stop us from getting to Nichols’ house. Further down the street at Nichols’ Wholesale, a man refused to say if he was inside and threatened to call 911.

Nichols, 30, says in the ad that he has made millions of dollars on e-commerce platforms here and says he can help others do the same.

Former Marine Nichols was previously featured on the Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2018 after a video of him rescuing dogs during Hurricane Florence was widely circulated online.

The sixth. In January, federal prosecutors said Nichols was on Capitol Hill with a Texas friend named Alex Harkrider, who is also a former Marine.

The FBI claims Nichols can be seen on a videotape shouting through a megaphone to a large crowd: If you have a weapon, you must have a weapon!

According to the complaint, another video shows Nichols screaming: It’s the second revolution, guys! This is not a peaceful demonstration.

The man who recognized the men told the FBI through court documents: I have screenshots from their Social Media pages showing that they were there and that Alex stated that they were preparing for a civil war

According to the complaint, Nichols was carrying a can of pepper spray and a crowbar and sprayed what was believed to be pepper spray toward the entrance to the Capitol where federal agents tried to stop the attack.

Federal agents obtained a photo from Snapchat that they believed had been shared by Harkrider.

We’re working on it. Two people have already been killed. We need all patriots in this country to unite and fight for our freedom, otherwise it will disappear forever. Give us liberty, or give us death, that was the subtitle.

He and Nichols are charged with conspiracy, trespassing with a dangerous weapon, burglary, disturbing the peace, assaulting a federal agent with a deadly or dangerous weapon and aiding and abetting, according to the federal indictment.

They’re both staying in jail.

The Purple Heart carrier lives with his or her parents

Three hours south, in a suburb of Houston, Texas, Army veteran Joshua Lollar lives with his parents as part of his liaison duty.

The house is part of a planned community with tree-lined streets and large brick homes at the end of long driveways.

That’s a long way from Iraq, where Lollar had been dispatched, and Washington, D.C., on the 6th. January.

A screenshot from Lollar’s Facebook account shows people wearing red Make America Great caps entering the Capitol with the Hack legend.

The lawsuit against him says he lived on Facebook during the siege. He was also caught on a police cell video admitting to committing violence against police officers the affidavit said.

Yeah, I’m fine. I was gassed and got into a fight with the police, which I never thought was possible, Lollar said under oath on Facebook.

Lollar’s father left the house with a small stuffed dog. After greeting CNN in a soft voice, he said I can’t tell you anything.

He confirmed that his son was an Iraq War veteran who was awarded the Purple Heart.

Lollar stated during the hearing in federal court that he lives with his parents, is being treated for PTSD and has been unable to work since 2009, according to KNRC, a subsidiary of CNN, which was present at the hearing. He was charged with a number of criminal offenses including forcibly entering the Capitol Hill grounds and disrupting public order, obstructing or interfering with law enforcement officers during a public order disturbance, and obstructing federally protected functions.

Lollar was released on bail. The court ordered that weapons, bulletproof vests and gas masks be seized from Lollarar’s father.

He doesn’t know where they are, Grover Lollar told the judge, according to the PRC.

More veterans accused of conspiracy

The first to be accused by federal officials of conspiracy in connection with the riots are veterans. Jessica Watkins, who served in the military under a different name, is also accused of being a member of the far-right Oath Keepers.

According to the indictment, she conspired with former Marine Donovan Crowle and Navy veteran Thomas Caldwell.

CNN has contacted the arrested veterans named in the story and all the lawyers named in their lawsuits. Most did not respond. A spokesman for Lollar said his client had no comment at this time.

CNN continues to count the number of military personnel arrested in connection with the uprising, as well as police officers and others trained or instructed to fight on behalf of the United States

What we have seen all too often is that such ideological militants are allowed into the military, said former FBI agent Michael Herman, who worked undercover for white extremist groups for years and now works at the Brennan Center for Justice. And not enough is being done to root it out and present it for what it is: an anti-democratic movement that threatens our security within our security services.

But he added that the threat goes beyond military and law enforcement officials.

It is not just the veterans of the Armed Forces and police who have been involved in violent and illegal activities, but the fact that these groups, who have been involved in violent militant activities outside the country for the past four years, have the support of elected politicians.

CNN’s Paul P. Murphy, Katelyn Polantz and Nicky Robertson contributed to this story.

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