Federal criminal charges from Wednesday’s mob attack on Congress highlight how much more dangerous the situation could have been, including what federal prosecutors said was a truck on the Capitol grounds with 11 Molotov cocktails made with a material to make them more like homemade napalm.
Amid the chaos of the insurrection — as the hundreds of President Donald Trump’s supporters rummaged through Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, entered the House and Senate floors and roamed the hallways — Capitol Police also responded to reports of pipe bombs at the National Republican Club, 300 First St. SE, and three blocks away at the Democratic National Committee Headquarters, 430 S. Capitol St. SE, court records show.
While conducting sweeps of the area, Capitol Police officers found the Molotov cocktails in mason jars, with golf tees in the top of each lid, along with cloth rags and lighters, in the bed of a red GMC Sierra 1500 truck with Alabama license plates, according to an affidavit filed with charges unsealed Friday.
The officers also found, in the cab of the truck, a handgun and an M4 carbine rifle, which is a lighter version of a military assault rifle, and loaded magazines, the court records state. They arrested Lonnie Coffman of Alabama when he returned for the truck later that day, and he faces charges related to those weapons.
And Christopher Alberts, 33, of Maryland, faces charges he entered the Capitol Building, authorities said. He already had been arrested by D.C. Police on charges he had a loaded 9mm handgun as authorities were clearing the area later Wednesday night after a District-imposed curfew.
Those arrests were among the federal criminal cases, some still under seal and some that will be released, announced Friday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
“Today’s charges are just the start of the results of the extensive work done by the FBI and our partners over the last few days, and we are far from done,” Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge for the Washington Field Office of the FBI, told reporters Friday. “We are combing through tips we have received from the public, and we will move forward any appropriate investigative activity that will bring those responsible to justice.”
The effort has gone nationwide, in part because Capitol Police allowed many of those who stormed the Capitol Building and caused destruction to leave without arresting them.
For example, a man photographed in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the mob and then outside the building holding a piece of her mail, Richard Barnett, has been arrested in Little Rock, Arkansas, on charges of knowingly entering and remaining in a restricted building, violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and theft of public property, the FBI said.
So far, 13 people face federal charges and about 40 face charges in local District of Columbia court. Among other charges announced by the Justice Department on Friday are those against Mark Leffingwell, who is accused of entering the Senate side of the Capitol and striking an officer in the helmet and chest, and Matthew Council, of Florida, who faces charges he pushed an officer after entering the Capitol Building illegally.
“I want to stress this: Just because you’ve left the D.C. region, you can still expect a knock on the door if we find out that you were part of the criminal activity at the Capitol,” D’Antuono said. “So bottom line and all this. The FBI is not sparing any resources in this investigation.”
Prosecutors also charged Derrick Evans, a newly elected Republican delegate in the West Virginia legislature who filmed himself with the insurrection, with entering a restricted area and entering the Capitol.
Many tips of the identities of those who came into the Capitol are coming through the public, as they post photos on social media from the event. The FBI is accepting tips through tips.fbi.gov/uscapitol and 1-800-CALL-FBI.