Federal prosecutors have released photos of a member of the Oath Keepers wheeling in bins of weapons, ammunitions and supplies to a hotel just outside of Washington, DC, the day before the January 6 riot.
Edward Vallejo, 63, helped coordinate the far-right militia’s ‘quick reaction forces,’ which were ready to show up to the Capitol fully armed at a moment’s notice if directed to do so by their colleagues on the ground, prosecutors say.
Vallejo is one of 11 people who were arrested and charged with seditious conspiracy last week for their role in the riot.
He and others waited at the Comfort Inn Ballston in Arlington, Virginia – about seven miles from the Capitol – with ‘weapons, ammunition, and essential supplies to last 30 days,’ prosecutors said in a Tuesday filing in US District Court in Arizona as they urged a judge to keep Vallejo detained before trial.
The judge detained him Thursday afternoon per the government’s request.
Edward Vallejo, 63, wheels bins with weapons, ammunition, and a month of supplies into a Comfort Inn just miles from the Capitol the day before the January 6 riot
Prosecutors say members of the Oath Keepers far-right militia waited at the hotel on January 6 and were ready to show up to the Capitol fully armed at a moment’s notice
The ‘quick reaction forces’ never had to go to the riot because the Oath Keepers on the ground got in just fine, prosecutors say. Above, Oath Keepers at the January 6 protest
The day of the riot, Vallejo texted someone: ‘Vallejo back at hotel and outfitted. Have 2 trucks available. Let me know how I can assist,’ he wrote. Minutes later, he added, ‘QRF standing by at hotel. Just say the word…’
Supporters of former President Donald Trump gathered near the Capitol for a rally the morning of January 6, in which Trump claimed that the 2020 election had been stolen from him and told his supporters to ‘fight like hell.’
The ensuing riot resulted in the death of five people, including law enforcement officers and protester Ashli Babbitt.
Prosecutors said that days before the riot, Vallejo texted Florida lead team Kelly Meggs: ‘Requesting coordinates to Allied encampment outside DC boundaries to rendezvous. Please respond ASAP. For the Republic.’
Meggs was arrested last week and charged along with his wife, Connie. They are accused of conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, destruction of government property, and other crimes.
The day before the riot, ‘Meggs and his Florida team dropped off at least three luggage carts’ worth of gun boxes, rifle cases, and suitcases filled with ammunition with their QRF (quick reaction force) team.
‘A second QRF team from North Carolina consisted of four men who kept their rifles ready to go in a vehicle parked in the hotel lot,’ prosecutors say.
Surveillance video shows Vallejo and other members wheeling the large black bins through the hotel.
On January 6 at 2.24pm, Vallejo messaged a group chat on the encrypted messaging app Signal.
‘Vallejo back at hotel and outfitted. Have 2 trucks available. Let me know how I can assist,’ he wrote. Minutes later, he added, ‘QRF standing by at hotel. Just say the word…’
Vallejo and his team ultimately didn’t have to bring the weapons to the Capitol since the group was able to breach the building without them.
Stewart Rhodes, shown in his booking photo on Thursday, appeared in court in Plano, Texas, on Friday to plead not guilty to seditious conspiracy
Oath Keepers founder Elemer Stewart Rhodes is believed to be the first person who did not actually go inside the building to be criminally charged over the riot.
‘I think Congress will screw him [Trump] over. The only chance we/he has is if we scare the shit out of them and convince them it will be torches and pitchforks time [if] they don’t do the right thing,’ Rhodes allegedly told other Oath Keepers while planning for the Capitol riot, according to an indictment.
Prosecutors say Rhodes commanded his followers from outside, and that he’d spent months plotting the invasion over texts and encrypted messaging services. If convicted, he faces 20 years behind bars.
‘The breach succeeded in delaying the Certification proceeding for several hours, and the proceeding ultimately concluded in the early morning hours of January 7,’ prosecutors say.
‘That same morning, Vallejo performed “Recon” in the area near the Capitol to see if he and his co-conspirators could “probe their defense line.” In the days that followed, Vallejo’s team reached out to Rhodes for next steps while his co-conspirators continued to make plans to stop the presidential power transfer, amass additional weaponry and tactical gear, and prepare themselves to deploy their arms, if necessary, to stop the inauguration of a new president.’
The Oath Keepers were founded in Las Vegas, Nevada in 2009.
The Capitol riot resulted in the deaths of five people. Supporters of former President Donald Trump gathered near the Capitol for a rally the morning of January 6, in which Trump claimed that the 2020 election had been stolen from him and told his supporters to ‘fight like hell’
Several accused Oath Keeper rioters are seen in this picture released by the Department of Justice taken on January 6
The group ‘claims to defend the Constitution’ and is ‘based on a set of baseless conspiracy theories about the federal government working to destroy Americans’ liberties,’ according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Members of the Oath Keepers believe that the government may at one point plan to seize all Americans’ guns.
In all, 19 members or associates of the Oath Keepers face charges of corruptly obstructing an official proceeding by traveling to Washington intent on stopping lawmakers from declaring Biden the election winner.
Those include Thomas Caldwell, 67, of Berryville, Virginia; Joseph Hackett, 51, of Sarasota, Florida; Kenneth Harrelson, 41, of Titusville, Florida; Joshua James, 34, of Arab, Alabama; Kelly Meggs, 52, of Dunnellon, Florida; Roberto Minuta, 37, of Prosper, Texas; David Moerschel, 44, of Punta Gorda, Florida; Brian Ulrich, 44, of Guyton, Georgia and Jessica Watkins, 39, of Woodstock, Ohio.
Two men who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction last year, Graydon Young and Jason Dolan, admitted to coordinating with the Oath Keepers and to using military formation to push into the Capitol, according to the Wall Street Journal.
One admitted to depositing an M4 rifle at the Comfort Inn hotel.
At least 20 current members of the US military signed up for the Oath Keepers at some point since its founding in 2009 – with 14 of them using their official military emails – despite Defense Department rules against participating in ‘extremist activities.’
Overall, 81 people signed up for the Oath Keepers while in uniform, according to a USA Today analysis of a list released last fall by the nonprofit whistleblower collective DDoSecrets.
At least 20 current members of the military have signed up for the anti-government Oath Keepers militia since its inception, according to a USA Today analysis of leaked data
Anthony Guadagnino (left), a recruiter for the New York Army National Guard, said that joining was a mistake. US Marine William Potting (right) said he thought the Oath Keepers were a pro-Constitution veterans’ group and that he unsubscribed after getting too many emails
Some members, like Coast Guard veteran Matthew Rupp (left) signed up with their official military email addresses. Others, like Army veteran Jeremiah Pulaski (right) touted their skills gained in the military
The Defense Department has known of members’ involvement in extremist groups for decades, but it has relied on a policy that only banned them from actively advocating for them.
The rules were beefed up in December in response to the January 6 Capitol riot.
Some say they signed up for the group at gun shows or other events without knowing what it stood for. Others touted their military training, such as shooting and recruiting, in case the group had to defend the Constitution against an attack.
A Defense Department spokesman said the department doesn’t ‘tolerate extremists in our ranks’ and that individual supervisors can use ‘the full range of administrative and disciplinary actions, including administrative separation or appropriate criminal action’ to deal with any such links.
Sgt. Anthony Guadagnino, a recruiter for the New York Army National Guard in Troy, New York, said it was a mistake.
‘I thought it was patriotic,’ he told USA Today. ‘It’s not.’
William Potting, a Marine, said he saw a post about the Oath Keepers on Facebook in 2013 in a group for supporters of former Rep. Ron Paul’s presidential campaign.
‘It looked like a veterans’ group that was pro-Constitution,’ he said. ‘After awhile, the emails were just junk mail. They were constantly sending me emails, so I unsubscribed.’