Seven from the Valley were charged for their role in the riot inside and around the U.S. Capitol on January 6 last year. Those were merely the foot soldiers.
A federal grand jury Thursday indicted ten people, including one Phoenix man, with the much more serious charge of seditious conspiracy.
Edward Vallejo, 63, was also charged with conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding, and conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging during duty.
“We have only [begun] the fight!” Vallejo said in the hours following the attack, according to a 48-page indictment filed in federal court.
Vallejo is a born and bred Arizonan, records show. He doesn’t have a criminal history. Instead, he has spent his career with Homefront Battle Buddies, an Arizona nonprofit providing resources to veterans. His photo appears on the homepage of the organization’s website.
Vallejo was integral in coordinating the attack on the U.S. Capitol, federal agents claim in court documents. They allege he helped transport firearms, organized teams and combat training, and used violence against law enforcement in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election by force.
On December 30, 2020, Vallejo was added to a group chat on Google Hangouts called “DC OP: Jan 6 21,” records show. He and other co-conspirators, orchestrated by alt-right Oath Keepers militia leader Stewart Rhodes of Texas, plotted the insurrection in a conversation of encrypted instant messages there.
“We will have to do a bloody, massively bloody revolution against them,” he told other Oath Keepers, speaking of the incoming Biden Administration. “That’s what’s going to have to happen.”
In the days leading up to the riot, cabalists checked into a Comfort Inn hotel in Arlington, Virginia, records show. One room was occupied by Vallejo and other members of the “Arizona Quick Reaction Force.” The group used the hotel room to store and guard firearms, according to the indictment.
On January 4, 2021, Vallejo messaged co-defendant in the indictment Kelly Meggs of Florida, saying “Sir, Ed Vallejo of Arizona in Tenn. With cadre requesting coordinates to Allied encampment outside DC boundaries to rendezvous. Please respond ASAP. For the Republic.”
Between January 1 and 5, Vallejo transported firearms, ammunition, and tactical gear from Virginia to Washington, D.C., according to court documents.
On the morning of the attack, Vallejo discussed the probability of “armed conflict” and “guerrilla war” between his group and law enforcement after he and co-conspirators would breach the Capitol.
“There are people who are prepared, have the will, have the facilities to do more than taunt,” he said.
Around 2:30 p.m. on January 6, Vallejo told the group he had two trucks on standby, according to court records, saying, “Just say the word.”
After the mob of more than 2,000 forced entry into the Senate chamber, Vallejo met his cronies at a restaurant in suburban D.C. to celebrate the attack and discuss next steps, court documents allege. After dinner, he messaged the group.
“We’ll be back at 6am to do it again … they should let us in,” he said. “We got food for 30 days.”
On January 12, while in Texas on the drive back to Arizona from Washington, D.C., an Arizona QRF team member messaged Rhodes, “Hi Stewart. I’m sure you’re busy but wanted to let you know that [Vallejo] and I are here … We are excited to learn next steps and would like to know what we should be doing right now.”
Five people died and several more were injured in the attack. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland this month called the resulting Justice Department probe “the largest federal investigation in history.”
The latest of more than 700 people to be named as suspects brought the Oath Keeper militia founder Rhodes, a good friend of Vallejo’s, and nine of his cohort before a federal grand jury.
Also affiliated with the Oath Keepers is Queen Creek resident James Ray Epps, who was seen on video encouraging the mob to enter the U.S. Capitol and was the center of an FBI informant conspiracy theory that was busted this week.
Epps, who was listed as Arizona Oath Keeper State Chapter president in 2011, runs Rocking R Farms and Knotty Barn out of Queen Creek, less than 30 miles from where former President Donald Trump will rally in Florence on Saturday. He hasn’t been charged or arrested for his role in the January 6, 2021 agitation.
Dozens of one-star reviews on the wedding venue he owns with his wife point to his role in the attack on the capitol with calls for the business to shut down for good.
“Great place to plan an insurrection,” Derek Helbert wrote in a review.
“This guy is a far right nut-job, steer clear,” wrote another reviewer.
“Storming the capitol in their free time,” wrote Tiffany Hernandez. “This is not the type of business owner I want to do business with. Very dangerous.”
And there are dozens more. The venue’s profile on Google is littered with pleas for his prosecution. Sixty-two of its 170 reviews are one-star jabs that reference January 6.
Epps didn’t return Phoenix New Times’ attempts to contact him over phone and email, a trend he’s upheld since a solitary interview with the Arizona Republic on January 11, 2021. He’s been called a coward online.
“If you do not speak out publicly I can assure you the time will come when you will have no choice,” reviewer Mike Boileau wrote to Epps just this week. “A time when you will find yourself in jail.”
Vallejo faces 20 years in prison for conspiring to overthrow the U.S. government.