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Prosecutors say oath keepers likely stored weapons on Jan.6 at a suburban Virginia hotel


Jessica Marie Watkins (2nd from left) and Donovan Ray Crowl (center), both from Ohio, descend the steps of the Eastern Front of the U.S. Capitol with the Oath Keepers militia among supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, States United, Jan. 6, 2021. Both have since been indicted by federal authorities for their role in the siege of the US Capitol. Photo taken on January 6, 2021. REUTERS / Jim Bourg / File Photo

  • Prosecutors say the suspected Oath Keepers stockpiled weapons in a “rapid reaction force” outside of Washington before January 6.

  • In a new file, they say members of the paramilitary group likely hid weapons in a suburban hotel.

  • Twelve alleged oathkeepers are accused in a high-profile conspiracy case linked to the attack.

  • See more stories on the Insider business page.

Members of the Oath Keepers, a far-right paramilitary group implicated in the Jan.6 Capitol uprising, likely stored a weapons cache at a suburban hotel outside of Washington, DC, on the eve of riot, according to federal prosecutors.

In a late filing Monday, prosecutors provided details for the first time about the alleged “rapid reaction force” or “QRF” of weapons stored outside Washington, they said, that members of the Oath Keepers had been compiled before the attack as part of their preparations. for the possibility of even more violence.

Until the most recent filing, prosecutors had provided little evidence of the existence of the QRF, according to Politico. Despite messages from Oath Keeper indicating the existence of a weapons cache, Judge Amit Mehta, who chairs the group’s conspiracy case, has repeatedly asked prosecutors to prove that the QRF actually existed.

Now prosecutors say they have evidence that members of the Oath Keepers – 12 of whom are defendants in a high-profile insurgency-related conspiracy case – used a Comfort Inn in Arlington, Va., To store weapons before the January 6.

Monday’s filing is in part an effort to deny pre-trial release to alleged oath-keeper Kenneth Harrelson, who prosecutors say can be seen in a photo of the Comfort Inn on Jan. 7, wearing what appears to be a weapon inside the hotel.

According to court documents, Harrelson texted a group chat on Jan. 5 asking for “the QRF hotel address.” Another alleged Oath Keeper and accused, Kelly Meggs, reportedly responded and told Harrelson to send him a direct message.

Prosecutors say about three hours after the text was sent out asking for the location of the QRF, Harrelson arrived at the Comfort Inn, where he stayed for about an hour, before heading to Washington, DC.

Cell phone data shows Harrelson spent the remainder of January 5, all of January 6, and the morning of January 7 in downtown DC. Meggs and other known Oath Keepers have rented several rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn in Washington, DC, where prosecutors say Harrelson spent the nights of January 5 and 6.

Prosecutors say it is “reasonable to believe” that Harrelson laid down his arms at the QRF at the Arlington Comfort Inn on January 5, then resumed them on January 7, after asking in a panel discussion on the ‘location of his “s- -” the day after the siege. Another member responded by asking Harrelson if he had left him at the “Comfort Inn in this room”.

“Indeed, surveillance footage from the Comfort Inn shows what appears to be the accused Harrelson rolling what appears to be at least a gun holster down a hallway and toward the elevator,” on the morning of Jan. 7, wrote prosecutors in Monday’s case.

Prosecutors say oath keepers likely stored weapons on Jan.6 at a suburban Virginia hotel

Surveillance footage from the Comfort Inn shows what appears to be the accused Harrelson rolling what appears to be at least a gun holster down a hallway and toward the elevator. US Department of Justice.

Harrelson and other alleged Oath Keeper members who appeared in court have pleaded not guilty, according to CNN.

Judge Mehta kept some of the members in jail pending trial, while releasing others because he said they did not pose a continuing danger to the community, CNN reported.

Prosecutors were keen to prove the existence of the QRF, in part, to convince the judge that the defendants pose a greater threat than the majority of their fellow rioters on Capitol Hill. Prosecutors were also keen to rebut claims by defense attorneys for the Oath Keeper that the group’s planning was in fact to guard against antifa violence and not storm the capital, Politico reported. .

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