What we know about the "unprecedented" Capitol riot arrests

·8 min read
What we know about the "unprecedented" Capitol riot arrests

America watched as hordes of rioters broke into the U.S. Capitol on January 6 — crushing through windows, pressing up stairways, and sending lawmakers and law enforcement running for their lives. The flood of protesters who streamed into the Capitol that day left federal authorities with an equally immense task: finding and charging those responsible.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said Tuesday that more than 480 defendants had been arrested in connection with the attack. The government has also indicated in court that prosecutors expect to charge up to 550 people total.

Prosecutors have called the case "unprecedented" in scale, and the government said in a March court filing that the Capitol attack "is likely the most complex investigation ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice."

As law enforcement continues to round up alleged rioters, here's what CBS News has learned about those who were arrested:

Over 480 defendants have been arrested and four have pleaded guilty

Of the more than 480 defendants who have been arrested in connection with the riots, CBS News has reviewed court documents for 463 defendants' cases that have been unsealed. Of those, at least 187 defendants were also indicted by grand juries. 

So far, four defendants have pleaded guilty, including an Oath Keepers member who agreed to cooperate with the government and a man who took a selfie in the Senate chamber. For others, plea negotiations have been complicated by the vast amounts of evidence involved in the investigation.

Charges include assaults on officers, destruction of government property and conspiracy

More than 130 defendants have been charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding officers or employees, including more than 40 who were charged with using a deadly or dangerous weapon or causing serious bodily injury to an officer, the Department of Justice said.

In total, CBS News has found that more than 150 officers were injured in the attack, according to sources on Capitol Hill and the Capitol Police union, as well as testimony from Metropolitan Police Chief Chief Robert Contee.

At least 35 defendants have been charged with conspiracy, a charge that alleges defendants coordinated with others to commit an offense. They include four alleged Three Percenters, 16 Oath Keepers who were indicted together in a single conspiracy case and 15 members or affiliates of the Proud Boys, who were charged in four separate conspiracy cases.

Approximately 440 defendants were charged with entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds. More than 40 were charged with entering the Capitol with a dangerous or deadly weapon, while around 25 were charged with theft of government property, the Department of Justice said.

More than 30 defendants have been charged with destruction of government property, and during proceedings for three of those defendants, the government has said their crimes amounted to "terrorism" — an allegation that is not itself a charge but could influence prison sentences if they are found guilty.

Dozens of defendants have served in the military

At least 53 of those arrested are current or former military members. Of those, one is an active duty service member, four are current part-time troops in the Army Reserve or National Guard, and 48 previously served in the military, according to attorney statements, military service records and court documents obtained by CBS News.

At least 23 have served in the U.S. Marines, 20 have served in the Army, two served in the Navy and two served in the Air Force. One defendant, Jeffrey McKellop, was a communications sergeant with the Army Special Forces, a group known colloquially as the Green Berets.

The Army Reserve shared the following statement with CBS News: "The U.S. Army Reserve takes all allegations of Soldier or Army civilian involvement in extremist groups seriously and will address this issue in accordance with Army regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice to ensure due process. Extremist ideologies and activities directly oppose our values and beliefs and those who subscribe to extremism have no place in our ranks."

At least 12 worked as law enforcement officers

At least 12 of those arrested were either former police officers or were employed as law enforcement officers at the time of the riot, according to court documents and employment records. Prosecutors also charged at least one current firefighter and one retired firefighter.

Of the six police officers employed at the time of the riot, at least five have since lost their jobs. Karol J. Chwiesiuk, a Chicago police officer who was arrested June 11 and accused of entering the Capitol building on January 6, was not fired but has been "relieved of his police powers," a department spokesperson said. The Board of Supervisors in North Cornwall Township, Pennsylvania, voted June 1 to fire Joseph Fischer, a police officer who had been charged with, among other crimes, obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder. Houston police officer Tam Dinh Pham and Monmouth County correctional police officer Marissa Suarez both resigned after they were arrested, and two Virginia police officers were fired after prosecutors charged them for their alleged conduct at the Capitol.

Prosecutors have charged at least one former police chief. Alan Hostetter was chief of the La Habra Police Department in California for eight months in 2010, according to the department, and prosecutors have charged him with conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding. Prosecutors have also charged former officers with the New York Police Department: Thomas Webster, who is accused of lunging at a Capitol police officer with a flagpole, and Sara Carpenter, whose arrest, an NYPD spokesperson said, was the culmination of the NYPD's close work with the FBI Joint Terrorism Taskforce.

Nicholes Lentz — who the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said is a former officer in the North Miami Beach and Fort Pierce police departments — was charged after posting videos from inside the Capitol. In a video, he said, "We're not here to hurt any cops of course. I love my boys in blue, but this is overwhelming for them."

Authorities are still looking for hundreds of suspects

The FBI is still seeking the public's help to identify more than 250 people believed to have committed assaults on police officers or other violent acts on the Capitol grounds.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said in March that citizens from around the country had sent the FBI more than 270,000 digital media tips. 

The government said it has issued a combined total of over 900 search warrants and the investigation has included more than 15,000 hours of surveillance and body-worn camera footage from multiple law enforcement agencies. The government has also gathered approximately 1,600 electronic devices, the results of hundreds of searches of electronic communication providers, over 80,000 reports and 93,000 attachments related to law enforcement interviews and other investigative steps, authorities said in a filing.

Defendants have come from at least 45 states

The alleged rioters come from at least 45 states outside of Washington, D.C. Among those arrested whose home states were known, the most were from Texas, with at least 45 Texans charged so far. Florida had at least 39 residents arrested while Pennsylvania had 38.

Authorities have linked dozens of defendants to extremist groups

Authorities have connected at least 73 alleged rioters to extremist groups, including the Proud BoysOath KeepersThree Percenters, Texas Freedom Force and the conspiracy ideology QAnon.

More than 50 women have been arrested

While those arrested in the January 6 mob were mostly men, at least 53 women have also been arrested for their alleged participation.

Defendants' ages span six decades

Among the 147 defendants whose ages are known, the average age is 41. The youngest-known alleged rioter is 18-year-old Bruno Joseph Cua, whom prosecutors accused of assaulting an officer after he posted online, "President Trump is calling us to FIGHT!" 

The oldest is Gary Wickersham, who, according to his attorney, is an 80-year-old Army veteran. Authorities said Wickersham walked through the Capitol during the siege and later told authorities he believed he was authorized to enter because he pays his taxes.

Recent updates on notable cases

A fourth Capitol riot defendant has now been charged with firearms violations. The defendant, Guy Reffitt, of Wylie, Texas, was charged with two new crimes in a superseding indictment, which alleged that he transported a rifle and a semi-automatic handgun to D.C. and that he carried the semi-automatic handgun while on U.S. Capitol grounds January 6.

Six California men, four of whom identify as members of "Three Percenter" militias, have been indicted for conspiring to obstruct congressional proceedings on January 6, the Justice Department announced.

The Senate released a report identifying widespread security and intelligence failures that led to the deadly January 6 assault on the Capitol. In a rare bipartisan joint interview, the Democrats and Republicans leading the investigation sat down with CBS News' Kris Van Cleave for a candid conversation about what went wrong and allowed a mob to storm the U.S. Capitol.

On June 4, a judge rejected the government's request to ban Capitol riot defendant Anthime Gionet — an alt-right internet provocateur known as "Baked Alaska" — from posting videos online after they say he live-streamed himself threatening his friend.

Paulina Smolinski contributed to this report.

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