Three Active-Duty Marines Charged in Jan. 6 Attack

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Three active-duty Marines assigned to intelligence-related jobs were charged this week with participating in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to court records, which showed that one of the Marines said that he was waiting for a second civil war.

The Marines, Cpl. Micah Coomer, Sgt. Joshua Abate and Sgt. Dodge Dale Hellonen, were arrested on Wednesday and face charges of disorderly conduct and unlawfully entering the Capitol building, according to court records.

Video footage and photographs taken during the attack showed that the three Marines were inside the Capitol for about 52 minutes while demonstrators fought with police officers and ransacked the building, according to a federal affidavit.

Sergeant Abate’s lawyer, David Dischley, declined to comment on Saturday. Court records did not list lawyers for Corporal Coomer and Sergeant Hellonen.

Corporal Coomer had posted several photos that appeared to be taken inside the Capitol on Instagram with the caption “Glad to be apart of history,” according to an affidavit. In a private conversation on Instagram on Nov. 7, 2020, he said that the election was unfair, the affidavit said.

Investigators also found that in a January 2021 Instagram conversation, Corporal Coomer said that “everything in this country is corrupt,” and that “a fresh restart” was needed.

“I’m waiting for the boogaloo,” he said, referring to an antigovernment extremist movement that seeks to start a second civil war. The person he was chatting with asked, “what’s a boogaloo,” and Corporal Coomer responded “Civil war 2.”

Sergeant Abate, in a June 2022 interview as part of his security clearance, said that he had entered the Capitol with two “buddies,” the affidavit said. In the interview, he said that his friend had smoked a cigarette while they were in the Rotunda and that they “walked around and tried not to get hit with tear gas.”

Sergeant Abate said in the interview that he had heard the riot was being portrayed negatively and he decided that he should not tell anyone he had been there.

Investigators said that in footage taken during the attack, Sergeant Hellonen was seen carrying a yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, which far-right militia groups have used to signal their anti-government views.

At one point, the three Marines put a red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap on a statue to take a photograph with it, according to the affidavit.

Military service records showed that Corporal Coomer, of Indiana, enlisted in September 2018 and was stationed at Camp Pendleton in Southern California. Sergeant Abate, of Virginia, enlisted in 2018 and was stationed at Fort Meade in Maryland. Sergeant Hellonen enlisted in August 2017 and was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

Corporal Coomer is an intelligence surveillance reconnaissance system engineer, according to service records. Sergeant Abate and Sergeant Hellonen are signals analysts. Each of the men had received a Good Conduct Medal and a National Defense Service Medal, according to service records.

Service records forwarded by the Marines on Saturday that described their current service status listed the three men as still being on active duty. It was not immediately known whether they face military disciplinary action in connection with the federal charges.

“We are aware of an investigation and the allegations,” the Marine Corps said in a statement. “The Marine Corps is fully cooperating with the appropriate authorities in support of the investigation.”

More than 940 people have been charged in connection with the attack, according to a database maintained by the Program on Extremism at George Washington University. More than 118 of the people who have been charged have a military background, according to the database, and most of those people are veterans.

Thomas Webster, a former Marine and a retired New York City police officer, was sentenced in September 2022 to 10 years in prison in connection with the attack. He swung a metal flagpole at a Washington officer during the riot, according to videos shown by prosecutors in court.

Far fewer active-duty military members have been charged.

In May 2021, Maj. Christopher Warnagiris, who had been stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia at the time of the attack, was charged with assaulting an officer and obstruction of justice. He has pleaded not guilty.

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