2 Ohioans indicted after texts, videos show plan for riot at U.S. Capitol

Three people who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, including two Ohioans, were indicted Wednesday on conspiring to obstruct Congress, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

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The release says 38-year-old Jessica Marie Watkins and 50-year-old Donovan Ray Crowl, both of Champaign County, Ohio, and 65-year-old Thomas Caldwell of Virginia coordinated with each other as early as November to discuss lodging, a call to action and other logistics planning for the riot. Champaign County is north of Dayton, Ohio and west of Columbus.

Law enforcement arrested Watkins and Crowl on Jan. 18, the release states. Caldwell was arrested the following day. All three individuals were originally charged by criminal complaint and, on Wednesday, were indicted on conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding, destruction of government property and unlawful entry on restricted building or grounds.

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The defendants face a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison for obstructing an official proceeding, according to the Department of Justice.

Officials say Watkins, Crowl and Caldwell are associated with the Oath Keepers, one of the largest radical, antigovernment groups in the United States, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. It is based on unfounded conspiracy theories about the federal government working to destroy the liberties of Americans. Prosecutors say the organization is focused on recruiting current and former military, law enforcement and first responder personnel.



a group of people riding on the back of a motorcycle: Rioters try to break through a police barrier Jan. 6 at the Capitol in Washington.


© John Minchillo/AP file
Rioters try to break through a police barrier Jan. 6 at the Capitol in Washington.

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Watkins and Crowl are also members of the Ohio State Regular Militia, officials said. Watkins claimed to be a commanding officer within this group on social media and posted a photo of herself in military gear with the caption: “Me before forcing entry into the Capitol Building. #stopthesteal #stormthecapitol #oathkeepers #ohiomilitia”

The release says Watkins, Crowl and Caldwell communicated with each other as early as November to coordinate the Jan. 6 attack. These communications continued through on or about Jan. 19, when Caldwell was arrested. 

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The defendants messaged each other about lodging options, a call to action and “joining forces” with other Oath Keeper chapters, the release says. 

On Dec. 31, the release says Caldwell posted: “THIS IS OUR CALL TO ACTION, FREINDS! SEE YOU ON THE 6TH IN WASHINGTON, D.C. ALONG WITH 2 MILLION OTHER LIKE-MINDED PATRIOTS.”

Officials say he posted again two days later: “It begins for real Jan 5 and 6 on Washington D.C. when we mobilize in the streets. Let them try to certify some crud on capitol hill with a million or more patriots in the streets. This kettle is set to boil…”

On the day of the riot, Watkins, Crowl and Caldwell documented their participation and whereabouts in or around the U.S. Capitol on social media, officials said. 

“We are surging forward. Doors breached,” Caldwell posted to Facebook, according to documents.

“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,” Watkins posted with a video of herself inside the Capitol, according to documents.

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In a group chat, named “Stop the Steal J6,” Watkins stated: “We have a good group. We have about 30-40 of us. We are sticking together and sticking to the plan,” the release says.

An unknown person responded: “We’ll see you soon, Jess. Airborne,” according to the release.

The FBI is continuing to search for individuals who may have incited or promoted violence of any kind during the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol. Anyone with digital material or tips can call 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324) or submit images or videos at fbi.gov/USCapitol.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: ‘This kettle is set to boil’: 2 Ohioans indicted after texts, videos show plan for riot at U.S. Capitol

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