Published On: Wed, Jan 13th, 2021

What police found on the Capitol protesters



Not long after security forces cleared the last of the pro-Trump mob from the Capitol, a police officer stationed nearby spotted a “suspicious male in a white passenger van with red spray paint on the side.” The Ford Econoline 150 had Georgia plates and a red MAGA hat on the dashboard.

“I’m one of these,” the man said to the officer as he pointed to the hat, according to a police report.

The man, Grant Moore of Buford, Ga., went on to say that he was supporting the Chinese who were “currently protesting around the city,” the report says. Whatever that meant, Moore, 65, was soon placed under arrest on weapons charges.

Inside his vehicle was a book bag containing a semi-automatic handgun with a fully-loaded 6-round magazine, the police report says. The officer also found three other magazines inside the bag and 12 loose rounds in one of the van’s front compartments.

The guns and ammunition were among an unusual collection of weapons the police seized from protesters who flooded into D.C. to support President Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election.

Only 75 people were arrested on the day of the Capitol siege, and police were not stopping and frisking random protesters.

Yet the authorities still turned up a wide array of weapons among the tiny slice of protesters who were arrested before and after the Capitol invasion.

The haul included an assault rifle, crossbow and eleven Molotov cocktails – all found in the car of an Alabama man.

While responding to reports of explosive devices in the area, U.S. Capitol Police officers saw the handle of a firearm on the front right passenger seat of Lonnie Coffman’s truck.U.S. Capitol Police
A crossbow was among the weapons found in Lonnie Coffman’s truck.U.S. Capitol Police

Others had brass knuckles and pocket knives, stun guns and “stinger whips.”

In all, police recovered a dozen guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition from seven separate people who were arrested before and after the Capitol riot, according to a review of court documents. One man, Lonnie Coffman of Alabama, was found with a massive arsenal that included five guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, federal prosecutors say.

Experts said the figures likely represent a fraction of the firearms protesters brought into Washington, which has among the strictest gun laws in the country.

“The cops weren’t searching people,” said former ATF agent Mark Jones, whose 20-year tenure included a stint with the Domestic Terrorism Operations Unit at the FBI Counterterrorism Center.

“I’d speculate that there were many, many more firearms that were there that were not uncovered.”

The first weapons were seized long before chaos broke out at the Capitol.

Charles Snell, 40, and Timothy Wolfe, 32, drove up together from Chesapeake, Va., to take part in the Trump rally, arriving about 11 a.m. They had been on the road for about three hours and were excited to take pictures at the event and be “a part of history,” Snell said in an interview.

But they never made it to the rally.

Snell turned into what he thought was a public parking garage on 12th Street, just a couple of blocks from the National Mall.

A security guard stopped the car and asked if they had any weapons inside, Snell said. A private security guard himself, Snell had a handgun in his backpack in the back seat. Wolfe told the guard he had a gun on the floorboard, a Glock .9mm with 12 rounds in the magazine.

The two men were placed under arrest on charges of carrying a pistol without a license, possession of unregistered ammunition and possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device.

“It was my fault,” Snell said. “I didn’t research it before I came or I wouldn’t have brought fingernail clippers on my key ring. Heck no.”

“I’m doing security,” he added. “If I get some kind of conviction, I might end up losing my license.”

Snell said they brought their guns only for security during travel to and from Washington. “Sometimes, you’ve got to go through Richmond, and you never know what might happen,” he said. “That place used to be the murder capital of the world.”

Wolfe could not be reached, and his lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

While Snell and Wolfe were still in jail, protesters stormed the Capitol, breaching the doors just after 2 p.m.

At 5:45 p.m., David Blair, 26, was among several protestors clashing with police near the Capitol’s lower west terrace door, according to a police report.

Officers were trying to push back the protesters when Blair was seen with a “lacrosse stick hitting officers,” the report says. He was struck by a police baton and sustained an injury to his head, according to the report.

While waiting for medical help, Blair said he was “being an idiot, pumped up and didn’t move back,” the report says. “Accept everything. I’m sorry.”

Blair pleaded not guilty to a charge of assault on a police officer. He could not be reached.

Moore, who was driving the white minivan, was stopped at about 6:20 p.m. A baffling phrase in red spray paint lined the van’s sides and back.

““Chicom X CCP,” it read – a possible reference to the Chinese Communist Party.

When the officer told Moore he was being arrested for carrying an unlicensed gun, he replied: “I don’t have intent,” according to a police report.

Online records show that Moore had operated a company that installed drainage systems for outdoor decks but its license wasn’t renewed after 2010. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Coffman, the Alabama man, was returning to his pick-up truck about 6:30 p.m. when he was stopped by police.

Earlier in the day, officers had responded to reports of explosive devices near the National Republican Club and Democratic National Committee headquarters.

As police canine units were scouring the area, two Capitol Police officers spotted what appeared to be a gun in the front passenger seat of a red GMC Sierra pickup truck owned by Coffman, federal court papers say.

When officers gained access to the vehicle, they found an arsenal of weapons: a loaded .9mm Hi-Point handgun, a loaded Windham Weaponry rifle, a loaded Hatfield Gun Company SAS shotgun, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a crossbow with bolts, several machetes, camouflage smoke devices and a stun gun, according to a detention memo filed Tuesday.

The truck bed also contained eleven mason jars containing an unknown liquid with “a golf tee in the top of each jar, cloth rags and lighters,” the memo says. Police determined the liquid was gasoline and the jars were Molotov cocktails.

Police determined the jars of liquid found in Lonnie Coffman’s truck were Molotov cocktails.U.S. Capitol Police

When Coffman returned that evening, the officers discovered that he was carrying two guns – a .9mm Smith & Wesson handgun in his right pocket and a .22-caliber North American Arms revolver in his front left pocket, the memo says.

He was indicted on 17 federal weapons charges Tuesday. Coffman’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

Coffman lives more than 700 miles away from Washington in the 1,200-person town of Falkville. His ex-wife told the local ABC affiliate WAAY that she had nothing to say about his arrest but added, “Yes, he voted for Trump.”

One person arrested on weapons charges was not a Trump supporter.

Leslie Grimes and two fellow Antifa members drove to Washington from Michigan to counter demonstrate during the Trump rally. According to one of Grimes’ friends, the group walked around for a while but returned to the car after Grimes got roughed by some Trump supporters.

As the trio were getting into the car, they were surrounded by officers who said someone had reported that they were seen “putting weapons in the trunk,” according to a video of the encounter posted on Facebook.

One of the three denied that there were any weapons in the car but officers ultimately found a handgun in the trunk.

Grimes was taken into custody on a charge of possessing an unlicensed gun after telling the officers the firearm belonged to her. She spent the night in jail but the authorities declined to move forward with charges, according to her lawyer.

The friend said he doesn’t understand how the cops knew there was a gun in the car. “It was in the trunk the whole time,” the friend said. “How would they know? It doesn’t make any sense.”

When asked why they brought a gun to Washington, the friend said that was a question for Grimes. “We tried to talk her out of it,” he said.

Grimes didn’t respond to a request for comment, but she posted a message on her Facebook page two days after the incident.

“I wonder if the D.C. Police feel silly arresting me with a literal insurrection going on,” she wrote.

It was not clear why the case was dropped.

A police spokesperson said she didn’t have specifics on the case, and the D.C. Superior Court did not return a message seeking comment.

One man was found to have a handgun on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

Police were escorting protesters away from the building when an officer approached a 33-year-old Maryland man named Christopher Alberts and noticed a bulge on his right hip that appeared to be a handgun, court papers say.

While pushing Alberts backward, the officer tapped the bulge with his baton and felt a hard object, confirming his suspicion that it was a firearm, court papers say.

Alberts, who was also wearing a bulletproof vest and carrying a backpack, tried to flee but was stopped by a group of officers, court papers say. A black Taurus G2C .9mm handgun was recovered from his right hip. He had a separate magazine on his left hip, the court papers say.

The officers also seized from him a pocket knife, court papers say.

Alberts was charged in federal court with possessing a firearm and ammunition on Capitol grounds. He could not be reached and his lawyer did not respond to requests for comment.

A 6 p.m. curfew order was in place and Vice President Pence was minutes away from reopening the Senate when police officers confronted a group of people outside a commercial building on Pennsylvania Ave.

One man, Stanley Williams, 34, was found to be in possession of a whip-like device he initially called a blackjack. Williams told the officer he carries it for personal protection, according to a police report.

Officers later determined that it was an emergency tool designed to help people escape a locked vehicle – a device known as a stinger whip.

Williams, of Englewood, Colorado, was charged with violating curfew. Police added an initial charge – possession of a prohibited weapon – but prosecutors declined to bring it.

Williams pleaded not guilty. He could not be reached, and his lawyer, Peter Cooper, declined to comment on the specifics of the case.

Another man, James Sinclair, 38, was also arrested for violating the curfew. Sinclair was standing outside the J.W. Marriott on Pennsylvania Ave. about 8:40 p.m. when he ignored two warnings to go inside, according to a police report.

An officer searched Sinclair and found a pair of black metal knuckles in his front right jacket pocket, according to the police report. Sinclair, of Bensalem, Pa., told the officers he brought the brass knuckles to Washington for his protection, the police report said.

He said he attended the Trump rally earlier in the day and marched to the Capitol grounds but did not enter the building. He had consumed two Cranberry vodkas an hour before his arrest, the report adds.

Sinclair was charged with violating curfew and possession of a prohibited weapon. He pleaded not guilty. Attempts to reach him were not successful, and his attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

Richard Barnett, who went viral after he was photographed lounging at the desk of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was carrying a stun gun on his belt, according to federal prosecutors.

Richard Barnett sits in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office on Jan. 6, 2021.Saul Loeb / AFP – Getty Images

He was arrested last Friday and prosecutors filed an amended criminal complaint Tuesday charging him with carrying a dangerous weapon in a restricted building, as well as disorderly conduct and theft of property.

When investigators showed up at his Arkansas home, they found the empty packaging for a ZAP Hike n’ Strike Hiking Staff High Voltage Stun Device inside the home, according to the complaint.

Barnett, 60, remains in custody. His lawyer, Anthony Siano, said: “Mr. Barnett intends to defend himself in court and not in the public forum.”

Another man, Cleveland Grover Meredith, drove to Washington from Colorado with an assault-style Tavor X95 rifle with a telescopic sight, a Glock .9mm with high capacity magazines and more than 2,500 rounds of ammunition, including at least 320 rounds of “armor-piercing bullets,” according to federal prosecutors.

Police found an assault-style rifle, a Glock .9mm and more than 2,500 rounds of ammunition in Cleveland Grover Meredith’s vehicle.U.S. District Court

He was arrested Jan. 7 and charged with possession of an unregistered firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition and transmitting a threat in interstate commerce.

His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As he headed towards the nation’s capital on Jan. 6, federal prosecutors say, Meredith sent a text message that read, “Hauling ass, 3.5 hours from target practice.”



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