An attorney for a man charged in the Jan. 6th D.C. siege says his client is a Navy vet who has held Top Secret security clearance for decades and has worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Also, the defendant, Thomas E. Caldwell, 65, is not a member of the Oath Keepers, according to a defense motion for bond obtained by Law&Crime.
Caldwell, along with Jessica Watkins, 38, and Donovan Crowl, 50, are each described by federal prosecutors as members of the far-right paramilitary group the Oath Keepers. All three have been indicted in a conspiracy case over the events of Jan. 6th, when Trump supporters raided the Capitol Building. Other people charged over the siege have often described their participation as a spur of the moment decision, usually motivated by then-President Donald Trump‘s call for his followers to go to the Capitol that day. According to the allegations, however, the trio in question planned this ahead of time and knew what they were getting into.
Also on January 1, 2021, CALDWELL sent a Facebook message to CROWL recommending a room at the Comfort Inn Ballston for January 5-7, 2021. CALDWELL wrote: “This is a good location and would allow us to hunt at night if we wanted to. I don’t know if Stewie [an apparent reference to Oath Keepers leader Elmer Stewart Rhodes] has even gotten out his call to arms but its a little friggin late. This is one we are doing on our own. We will link up with the north carolina crew.” The investigation revealed that an individual who presented herself as “Jessica Wagkins”, whom I believe to be WATKINS, rented a room at the Comfort Inn Ballston from January 5-7, 2021.
In a motion for bond, Caldwell’s defense describes him as living with disability linked to his service. He experienced health problems including shoulder problems, knee issues, and degenerative lumbar disc disease with bilateral sciatic involvement, as well as a failed spinal fusion that resulted in him being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Physical activities (including lifting, carrying, and even sitting for extended periods of time) are “extremely painful” for the defendant, his motion states.
In their case against Caldwell, authorities cited a video he sent which appeared to be taken from within the Capitol.
“Us storming the castle,” Caldwell allegedly wrote two minutes later. “Please share. Sharon was right with me! I am such an instigator! She was ready for it man! Didn’t even mind the tear gas.”
From the affidavit:
On January 6, 2021, while at the Capitol, CALDWELL received the following Facebook message: “All members are in the tunnels under capital seal them in . Turn on gas”. When CALDWELL posted a Facebook message that read, “Inside,” he received the following messages, among others: “Tom take that bitch over”; “Tom all legislators are down in the Tunnels 3floors down”; “Do like we had to do when I was in the core start tearing oit florrs go from top to bottom”; and “Go through back house chamber doors facing N left down hallway down steps.”
“We need to do this at the local level,” Caldwell allegedly wrote Crowl in a Facebook message on the evening of January 6. “Lets storm the capitol in Ohio. Tell me when!”
According to the defense, Caldwell denied ever being in the Capitol Building, and he said he was with people who can testify he never stepped inside. His physical challenges would his stopped him from forcibly entering any building or storming past any barrier.
The defense says the government presented no pictures or video showing Caldwell in the Capitol, on the grounds after storming a barrier, around any damaged property, or in either chamber of Congress.
Colin Kalmbacher contributed to this report.
[images via federal court papers]
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