Today's Paper Latest Coronavirus Elections Cooking Covid Classroom Families Core Values Story ideas iPad Weather Newsletters Obits Puzzles Archive
ADVERTISEMENT

Current, former military and police linked to riot

by MICHAEL BIESECKER, JAKE BLEIBERG AND JAMES LAPORTA THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | January 16, 2021 at 4:15 a.m.
FILE - In this Sunday, June 25, 2017 file photo, Stewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers speaks during a rally outside the White House in Washington. Rhodes, an Army veteran who founded the Oath Keepers in 2009 as a reaction to the presidency or Barack Obama, had been saying for weeks before the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot that his group was preparing for a civil war and was "armed, prepared to go in if the president calls us up." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

WASHINGTON -- As President Donald Trump's supporters massed outside the Capitol last week and sang the national anthem, a line of men wearing olive-drab helmets and body armor trudged up the marble stairs in a single-file line, each man holding the jacket collar of the one ahead.

The formation, known as "Ranger File," is standard operating procedure for a combat team that is "stacking up" to breach a building -- instantly recognizable to any U.S. soldier or Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was a sign that many at the vanguard of the mob that stormed the seat of American democracy either had military training or were trained by those who did.

An Associated Press review of public records, social media posts and videos shows at least 22 current or former members of the U.S. military or law enforcement have been identified as being at or near the Capitol riot, with more than a dozen others under investigation but not yet named. In many cases, those who stormed the Capitol appeared to employ tactics, body armor and technology such as two-way radio headsets that were similar to those of the police they were confronting.

Experts in homegrown extremism have warned for years about efforts by far-right militants and white-supremacist groups to radicalize and recruit people with military and law enforcement training, and they say the Jan. 6 insurrection that left five people dead saw some of their worst fears realized.

"[The Islamic State] and al-Qaida would drool over having someone with the training and experience of a U.S. military officer," said Michael German, a former FBI agent and fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. "These people have training and capabilities that far exceed what any foreign terrorist group can do. Foreign terrorist groups don't have any members who have badges."

Among the most prominent to emerge is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and decorated combat veteran from Texas who was arrested after he was photographed wearing a helmet and body armor on the floor of the Senate, holding a pair of zip-tie handcuffs.

Another Air Force veteran from San Diego was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer as she tried to leap through a window near the House chamber. A retired Navy SEAL, among the most elite special warfare operators in the military, posted a Facebook video about traveling from his Ohio home to the rally, saying "our building, our house."

Two police officers from a small Virginia town, both of them former infantrymen, were arrested by the FBI after posting selfies inside the Capitol, one flashing his middle finger at the camera.

Also under scrutiny is an active-duty psychological warfare captain from North Carolina who organized three busloads of people who headed to Washington for the "Save America" rally in support of the president's claim that the November election was stolen from him.

While the Pentagon declined to provide an estimate for how many other active-duty military personnel are under investigation, the military's top leaders were concerned enough ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration that they issued a highly unusual warning to all service members this week that the right to free speech gives no one the right to commit violence.

The chief of the U.S. Capitol Police was forced to resign after the breach and several officers have been suspended pending the outcome of investigations into their conduct.

The review of hundreds of videos and photos from the insurrectionist riot shows scores of people mixed in the crowd who were wearing military-style gear, including helmets, body armor, rucksacks and two-way radios. Dozens carried canisters of bear spray, baseball bats, hockey sticks and pro-Trump flags attached to stout poles later used to bash police officers.

A close examination of the group marching up the steps to help breach the Capitol shows they wore military-style patches that read "MILITIA" and "OATHKEEPER." Others were wearing patches and insignias representing far-right militant groups, including the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters and various self-styled state militias.

The Oath Keepers, which claims to count thousands of current and former law enforcement officials and military veterans as members, has become a fixture at protests and counter-protests across the country, its members often heavily armed with semi-automatic carbines and tactical shotguns.

The FBI is warning of the potential for more bloodshed. In an internal bulletin issued Sunday, the bureau warned of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitals and in Washington, D.C., in the coming weeks.

Information for this article was contributed by Robert Burns, Michael Balsamo, Jim Mustian, Michael R. Sisak, Thalia Beaty, Michael Kunzelman, Juan A. Lozano, Claudia Lauer, Martha Bellisle, Stefanie Dazio and Carolyn Thompson of The Associated Press.

A line of men wearing helmets and olive drab body armor walk up the marble stairs outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington in an orderly single-file line, each man holding the jacket collar of the man ahead, in this Jan. 6 image from video. The formation, known as “Ranger File,” is standard operating procedure for a combat team “stacking up” to breach a building.
(AP/Robyn Stevens Brody)
A line of men wearing helmets and olive drab body armor walk up the marble stairs outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington in an orderly single-file line, each man holding the jacket collar of the man ahead, in this Jan. 6 image from video. The formation, known as “Ranger File,” is standard operating procedure for a combat team “stacking up” to breach a building. (AP/Robyn Stevens Brody)
This undated photo provided by the Grapevine, Texas Police Department in January 2021 shows Larry Rendall Brock Jr. During the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, Brock was photographed on the Senate floor wearing a helmet and heavy vest and carrying zip-tie handcuffs. The retired Air Force officer was arrested in Texas and charged Sunday, Jan. 10 in federal court in the District of Columbia. (Grapevine, Texas Police Department via AP)
This undated photo provided by the Grapevine, Texas Police Department in January 2021 shows Larry Rendall Brock Jr. During the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, Brock was photographed on the Senate floor wearing a helmet and heavy vest and carrying zip-tie handcuffs. The retired Air Force officer was arrested in Texas and charged Sunday, Jan. 10 in federal court in the District of Columbia. (Grapevine, Texas Police Department via AP)
This image shows a video by Adam Newbold posted on Facebook on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. The retired U.S. Navy SEAL said he was not going to Washington, D.C., "looking for a fight" and that people should treat police officers and National Guard members with respect. He added: "We are not going down looking for a fight. We are just very prepared, very capable, and very skilled patriots ready for a fight. And we will react without hesitation when called upon to do so." (Facebook via AP)
This image shows a video by Adam Newbold posted on Facebook on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. The retired U.S. Navy SEAL said he was not going to Washington, D.C., "looking for a fight" and that people should treat police officers and National Guard members with respect. He added: "We are not going down looking for a fight. We are just very prepared, very capable, and very skilled patriots ready for a fight. And we will react without hesitation when called upon to do so." (Facebook via AP)
Retired Air Force officer Larry Rendall Brock Jr. walks out of Parker County Jail upon release on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 in Weatherford, Texas. Brock was released from custody on Thursday following a detention hearing in federal court. Brock was identified in photos as part of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol last week. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
Retired Air Force officer Larry Rendall Brock Jr. walks out of Parker County Jail upon release on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 in Weatherford, Texas. Brock was released from custody on Thursday following a detention hearing in federal court. Brock was identified in photos as part of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol last week. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
This Jan. 6, 2021 photo made available by the United States Capitol Police in a complaint and arrest warrant shows Rocky Mount Police Department Sgt. Thomas "T.J." Robertson and officer Jacob Fracker in the Capitol in front of a statute of John Stark, a Revolutionary War officer famous for writing the state motto of New Hampshire, "Live Free or Die." (Courtesy United States Capitol Police via AP)
This Jan. 6, 2021 photo made available by the United States Capitol Police in a complaint and arrest warrant shows Rocky Mount Police Department Sgt. Thomas "T.J." Robertson and officer Jacob Fracker in the Capitol in front of a statute of John Stark, a Revolutionary War officer famous for writing the state motto of New Hampshire, "Live Free or Die." (Courtesy United States Capitol Police via AP)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 file photo, Donald Trump supporters gather outside the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 file photo, Donald Trump supporters gather outside the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
Retired Air Force officer Larry Rendall Brock Jr. walks out of Parker County Jail upon release on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 in Weatherford, Texas. Brock was released from custody on Thursday following a detention hearing in federal court. Brock was identified in photos as part of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol last week. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
Retired Air Force officer Larry Rendall Brock Jr. walks out of Parker County Jail upon release on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 in Weatherford, Texas. Brock was released from custody on Thursday following a detention hearing in federal court. Brock was identified in photos as part of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol last week. (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
FILE - In this image taken from video provided by WRAL-TV, Capt. Emily Rainey speaks during an interview with WRAL-TV, in Southern Pines, N.C., in May 2020. The Army is investigating Rainey, a psychological operations officer, who led a group of people from North Carolina to the rally in Washington that led to the deadly riot in the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump. (Courtesy of WRAL-TV via AP, File)
FILE - In this image taken from video provided by WRAL-TV, Capt. Emily Rainey speaks during an interview with WRAL-TV, in Southern Pines, N.C., in May 2020. The Army is investigating Rainey, a psychological operations officer, who led a group of people from North Carolina to the rally in Washington that led to the deadly riot in the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump. (Courtesy of WRAL-TV via AP, File)
ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsor Content