DOJ Announces Federal Charges Against 13 Capitol Rioters as FBI Continues to Investigate
So far, several individuals have been arrested and charged in Superior Court with offenses including unlawful entry, curfew violations, and firearms-related crimes
The FBI is continuing to investigate the violent riots in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday and file charges against participants, including one who allegedly left a car full of homemade bombs and guns near the U.S. Capitol building.
On Friday, the Department of Justice identified the man as Lonnie Leroy Coffman, from Falkville, Alabama.
According to an official police release, the 70-year-old was arrested on Thursday and then later charged with one count of unlawful possession of a destructive device and one count of carrying a pistol without a license, which carry maximum sentences of 10 and five years in prison, respectively.
Police say they first noticed a handgun in the passenger seat of Coffman’s car, which was parked in the vicinity of the Capitol during the riots. The bomb squad then searched the vehicle and found one black handgun, one assault rifle, rifle magazines loaded with ammunition and 11 “Molotov Cocktails” in mason jars filled with an explosive mixture of melted Styrofoam and gasoline, they reported.
RELATED: Pro-Trump Rioters Storm U.S. Capitol, Forcing Evacuation of Lawmakers
Coffman is one of the many individuals who have been charged in federal court in connection to the riots, including Adam Johnson who was photographed breaking into and stealing from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s office.
On Saturday, the U.S. attorney's office for D.C. said Johnson, Jacob Anthony Chansley and West Virginia lawmaker Derrick Evans were charged in federal court.
Chansley, who was taken into custody on Saturday, was charged with "knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds."
Evans, who was taken into custody on Friday, was charged with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol Grounds.
In addition, about 40 individuals have been arrested and charged in Superior Court with offenses including unlawful entry, curfew violations, and firearms-related crimes, another release from the Department of Justice stated on Friday.
The rioting was incited by President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the election had been stolen from him. An emboldened crowd clashed with police, overran the officers and made their way into the Capitol building, all while lawmakers gathered to count the Electoral College votes certifying President-elect Joe Biden's win over Trump.
Police have confirmed that at least five people have died and several dozen police officers were injured during the violent events.
According to a report from The Washington Post, the FBI is currently looking into whether some of those involved in the pro-Trump riot intended to harm lawmakers or take hostages as they stormed the Capitol.
“We’re not looking at this as a grand conspiracy, but we are interested in learning what people would do with things like zip ties,” a law enforcement official told the Post on the condition of anonymity.
Chuck Rosenberg, a former U.S. attorney and FBI official, additionally told The Post that it is imperative the FBI conduct thorough investigations before filing charges to identify whether there were broader conspiracies at play.
“This is why you do investigations before you charge anybody,” he said. “Did some number of them, maybe not all, did some number of them have an agreement that the law forbids?”
“Even though people act in concert, it doesn’t necessarily mean they conspired,” Rosenberg added. “You could have 300 people with 100 separate conspiratorial agreements of three people each, or you could have a single conspiracy with 300.”