LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Six California men, four of whom identify as members of the anti-government Three Percenters movement, have been charged with crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
The following men are facing federal charges that include conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding, and unlawful entry on restricted building or grounds:
- Alan Hostetter, 56, of San Clemente and former La Habra police chief;
- Russell Taylor, 40, of Ladera Ranch;
- Erik Scott Warner, 45, of Menifee;
- Felipe Antonio “Tony” Martinez, 47, of Lake Elsinore;
- Derek Kinnison, 39, of Lake Elsinore; and
- Ronald Mele, 51, of Temecula.
Taylor has also been charged with obstructing law enforcement during a civil disorder and unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon on Capitol grounds. Warner and Kinnison are also charged with tampering with documents or proceedings.
According to the indictment, the defendants allegedly planned and coordinated their effort to obstruct and interfere with the joint session of Congress to certify the electoral college vote. The indictment alleges that the men communicated through various messaging applications and social media to share information about the election, coordinate travel to Washington, D.C. and promote events sponsored by the American Phoenix Project, which Hostetter founded to oppose government mandated COVID-19 restrictions.
The indictment also alleges that on Dec. 28 Warner initiated a group text in which he, Mele, Kinnison and Martinez discussed logistics and expenses for a cross-country road trip. The following day, the indictment alleges Hostetter and Taylor texted each other regarding travel and whether they would bring firearms.
On Jan. 1, Taylor allegedly created a Telegram chat called “The California Patriots-DC Brigade” with the stated purpose of serving “as the Comms for able bodied individuals that are going to DC on Jan 6. Many of us have not met before and we are all ready and willing to fight. We will come together for this moment that we are called upon,” according to the indictment.
All six of the men allegedly joined the Telegram group and used it to plan and coordinate their actions. According to the indictment, Kinnison said that he, Mele and Warner would be driving to Washington, D.C. because their “luggage would be too heavy. We will have lots of gear from medical kits, radios, multiple cans of bear spray, knives, flags, plates, goggles, helmets…I think we should clear all text in this chat in the morning of the 5th just in case for opsec purposes.” He also allegedly told the group that he, Mele and Warner were part of the Three Percenters group.
Mele allegedly told the group that he would be bringing a firearm on the trip that could “be stashed under the seat,” of the vehicle they were traveling in.
On Jan. 6, the defendants congregated on the National Mall for the rally according to the indictment, and Mele, Martinez, Kinnison and Warner posed for a photo. Martinez, Kinnison and Warner flashed a hand signal showing affiliation with the Three Percenter group. Taylor, Hostetter and others walked down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol, and Taylor took a selfie-style video as he walked, in which he stated, “We are on the move. Heading up to the Capitol.”
At 2:13 p.m., Warner entered the Capitol through a broken window. At approximately 2:30 p.m., Taylor and Hostetter joined rioters on the lower west terrace who were pushing through the line of law enforcement officers. Taylor was carrying a knife in the front chest pocket of his plate carrier vest and urged on rioters before pushing through the police line and moving up the stairs and onto the upper west terrace, the indictment states.
Since Jan. 6, approximately 465 people have been arrested on charges related to the U.S. Capitol breach, including more than 130 charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.
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