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Self-styled militia members in three states began planning in November for recruits, weapons ahead of Capitol breach, U.S. alleges

By Spencer S. Hsu, Rachel Weiner and Tom Jackman

Three self-styled militia members charged in the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol began soliciting recruits for potential violence within days of the 2020 presidential election, later training in Ohio and North Carolina and organizing travel to Washington with a busload of comrades and a truck of weapons, U.S. authorities alleged Wednesday.

A four-count indictment returned in D.C. laid out fresh details and allegations against Jessica Marie Watkins, 38, and Donovan Ray Crowl, 50 — both of Woodstock, Ohio — and Thomas E. Caldwell, 66, of Berryville, Va. The three, all U.S. military veterans, are accused of conspiring to obstruct Congress and other counts, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors have said Caldwell appears to have ties to the anti-government Oath Keepers extremist group — although his attorney said he is not a member. They also have alleged that the retired Navy lieutenant commander helped organize dozens of others who coordinated their movements as they “stormed the castle” to disrupt the confirmation of President Biden’s electoral college victory.

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