Three active-duty Marines charged in January 6 Capitol riot

Nearly 1,000 people are facing charges so far in the riot and the tally increases by the week

Insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump try to open a door of the U.S. Capitol as they riot in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021.
Insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump try to open a door of the U.S. Capitol as they riot in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021.Jose Luis Magana (AP)

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A Marine who said he was waiting for “Civil War 2″ and two other active-duty members of the military have been charged with participating in the riot at the US Capitol, authorities said in newly filed court papers.

Micah Coomer, Joshua Abate and Dodge Dale Hellonen were arrested this week on misdemeanor charges after their fellow Marines helped investigators identify them in footage among the pro-Trump mob on January 6, 2021, according to court papers.

Dozens of people charged in the riot have military backgrounds, but these three are among only a handful on active duty. A Marine Corps officer seen on camera scuffling with police and helping other members of the mob force their way into the Capitol was charged in 2021.

No defense lawyers for the men were listed in the court docket, so it was not immediately clear whether they have attorneys to comment on their behalf.

Their service records show they are all active-duty Marines. Maj. Kevin Stephensen, a spokesman for the Marine Corps, said it is aware of the allegations and “is fully cooperating with appropriate authorities in support of the investigation.”

Coomer, of Indiana, is stationed in Southern California’s Camp Pendleton; Abate, of Virginia, is at Fort Meade in Maryland; and Hellonen, of Michigan, is stationed at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune, according to the Marines.

The men spent about 52 minutes inside the Capitol, authorities say. At one point while in the rotunda, they put a red “Make American Great Again” hat on a statue to take pictures with it, according to court papers. Hellonen was carrying a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, authorities said.

Coomer posted photos on Instagram that appeared to be taken inside the Capitol with the caption “Glad to be apart of history,” according to court documents. Days after the 2020 election, he and another person discussed over Instagram message how he believed the election was rigged.

And in late January 2021, he told another person in a message that “everything in this country is corrupt.”

“We honestly need a fresh restart. I’m waiting for the boogaloo,” Coomer wrote in a message detailed in court documents. When asked by the person what’s “a boogaloo,” Coomer responded “Civil War 2,” authorities said.

The boogaloo is an anti-government, pro-gun extremist movement. Its name is a reference to a slang term for a sequel, in this case, a second US civil war. The movement is named after Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, a 1984 sequel to a movie about breakdancing.

Supporters have shown up at protests over COVID-19 lockdown orders and protests over racial injustice, carrying rifles and wearing tactical gear over Hawaiian shirts. The shirts are a reference to “big luau,” a riff on the term “boogaloo” sometimes favored by group members.

During an interview related to his security clearance in June, Abate acknowledged walking through the Capitol with two “buddies,” investigators said. Abate said they “walked around and tried not to get hit with tear gas.”

The Pentagon said Abate was assigned to the Marine Cryptologic Support Battalion, which supports the National Security Agency. One of the largest US intelligence agencies, the NSA spies on electronic communications around the world and has a critical role in deterring cyberattacks and foreign influence operations.

A spokesperson for the NSA declined to answer questions about when the agency learned of Abate’s statement that he had entered the Capitol or if it took action prior to his arrest to restrict his access to classified information.

The trio face charges including illegal entry and disorderly conduct.

Among January 6 defendants with military backgrounds are members of the far-right extremist group the Oath Keepers, accused of plotting to violently keep President Donald Trump in power. The group’s leader, Stewart Rhodes, a former Army paratrooper, was convicted of seditious conspiracy in November.

A Navy reservist from Virginia accused of storming the Capitol was convicted this week on charges that he illegally possessed silencers disguised to look like innocuous cleaning supplies. Hatchet Speed is scheduled to go on trial in his Jan. 6 case later this year.

And a former US Army reservist described by prosecutors as a Nazi sympathizer was convicted of storming the Capitol to obstruct Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, who was employed as a security contractor at a Navy base, was sentenced to four years in prison in September.

Nearly 1,000 people have been charged so far in the riot and the tally increases by the week. Almost 500 people have pleaded guilty to riot-related charges and more than three dozen have been convicted at trial.

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