Members of the far right Oath Keepers stockpiled a cache of supplies and weapons in a hotel just outside of Washington, D.C., in preparation for the January 6 Capitol attack, federal prosecutors have found.
According to the prosecutors’ memo arguing for the pretrial detainment of Oath Keepers member Edward Vallejo, he and other members of the so-called “quick reaction force” (QRF), transported weapons, ammunition and enough essentials to last 30 days into a Comfort Inn in Arlington, Virginia. Vallejo, who hails from Phoenix, is facing a charge of seditious conspiracy; prosecutors say he “played a central role in the planned use of force in this plot.”
The memo also says that the leader of the Florida Oath Keepers team, Kelly Meggs, dropped off “at least three luggage carts’ worth of gun boxes, rifle cases, and suitcases filled with ammunition” at the hotel on January 5. A North Carolina team brought rifles, which they kept in their cars in the parking lot.
Surveillance footage further shows Vallejo and another member from Arizona wheeling in two large storage bins and a large, oblong bag into the hotel on the morning of the attack.
Communications between Oath Keepers before the Capitol attack have revealed that the extremist militia group had been planning the attack for months and anticipated kicking off a war. Stewart Rhodes, the leader and founder of the Oath Keepers, began riling up members for a “civil war” and a “bloody and desperate fight” only two days after the 2020 election.
Hours before the January 6 attack, Rhodes messaged supposed co-conspirators that the group “will have several well equipped QRFs outside DC. And there are many, many others, from other groups, who will be watching and waiting on the outside in case of worst case scenarios.”
That day, Oath Keepers organized “military-style stacks” of extremist right wingers to breach the Capitol. Meanwhile, in Arlington, “quick reaction force” teams were “awaiting deployment,” prosecutors said.
Oath Keepers were among the most heavily armed Trump militants that participated in the attempted coup. Over 20 suspected members of the group have been arrested on charges related to the attack so far. The group, which has long been loyal to Trump, was also evidently on guard during Trump’s inauguration day in 2017, monitoring the crowd for political opponents.
In the days following the attack, Oath Keepers lingered in the area and were awaiting orders from Rhodes to potentially stop the inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20. They made plans to further amass tactical equipment and weaponry in preparation for another attack.
Indeed, after January 6, Oath Keepers were still discussing starting a protracted battle to keep Trump in office. Texas Oath Keeper Joshua James, who is also facing a seditious conspiracy charge, sent a message on Inauguration Day saying “After this…if nothing happens…its war…Civil War 2.0.” However, their plan to interrupt the presidential inauguration never came to fruition.