Three individuals associated with the Oath Keepers, a paramilitary organization focused on the recruitment of current and former military, law enforcement, and first responder personnel, were indicted today in federal court in the District of Columbia for conspiring to obstruct Congress, among other charges.
According to the charging documents, Watkins, Crowl, and Caldwell communicated with each another in advance of the Jan. 6, 2021, incursion on the U.S. Capitol and coordinated their attack. Watkins, Crowl, and Caldwell are all affiliated with the Oath Keepers, while Watkins and Crowl are also members of the Ohio State Regular Militia. Watkins claimed to be a commanding officer within the Ohio State Regular Militia in a social media post.
According to the criminal complaint filed on Jan. 19, on Jan. 6, the three documented their participation and whereabouts in or around the U.S. Capitol on social media. Caldwell posted messages on Facebook such as, “We are surging forward. Doors breached[.]” and at 3:05 p.m. posted just, “Inside.” Watkins posted photos of herself, and with Crowl, on her Parler account and captioned a photo by stating, “Me before forcing entry into the Capitol Building. #stopthesteal2 #stormthecapitol #oathkeepers #ohiomilitia.” Subsequently, she posted a video of herself inside the Capitol captioned, “Yeah. We stormed the Capitol today. Teargassed, the whole, 9. Pushed our way into the Rotunda. Made it into the Senate even. The news is lying (even Fox) about the Historical Events we created today.”
In addition to the communication via Facebook and Parler, the FBI obtained an audio recording of Zello communications between Watkins and other suspected Oath Keepers during the Capitol incursion on a channel called “Stop the Steal J6.” As alleged in the indictment, in one transmission Watkins stated, “We have a good group. We have about 30-40 of us. We are sticking together and sticking to the plan.” An unknown male responds, “We’ll see you soon, Jess. Airborne.” Following the U.S. Capitol incursion, Watkins and Crowl each interviewed with the media. During the interviews, both confirmed membership of the Oath Keepers.
The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the National Security Division, Counterterrorism Section, Department of Justice. Valuable assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices for the Southern District of Ohio and Western District of Virginia. The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Cincinnati Division, Dayton Joint Terrorism Task Force, with assistance by the FBI’s Richmond Division.
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