Two participants in the January riot at the Capitol have been hit with new federal criminal charges alleging, in part, that they plotted bringing guns to the Capitol. Those facing the new charges include Tennessee resident Ronald Sandlin and Nevada resident Nathaniel DeGrave, and the new allegations — to which both have pleaded not guilty — include conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, and assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers, all of which are among the most serious charges issued against Capitol rioters so far. Obstruction of an official proceeding carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
Ahead of a status conference scheduled for late October, both Sandlin and DeGrave — who had previously faced other charges before these allegations contained in a new superseding indictment — are in custody. As summarized by a press release from the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s office:
‘According to court documents, Sandlin and DeGrave planned to interfere with the peaceful transition of presidential power, beginning in December 2020. On Dec. 23, 2020, Sandlin posted to Facebook asking who else was traveling to Washington. DeGrave replied that he was considering joining him and the two exchanged further messages about the activities in D.C., as alleged.’
Sandlin and DeGrave are also alleged to have started a private group chat including another Capitol rioter, Josiah Colt, who had already entered a plea deal with prosecutors before this superseding indictment. Among the topics of discussion in that group chat was “shipping guns,” and later, Sandlin, DeGrave, and Colt met in a hotel room on the January day when the riot took place, where they quite literally recorded themselves — with the aim of sharing the comments on social media — discussing topics like whether they’d carry guns. DeGrave said that “for the camera’s sake, we’re not going to carry” — which suggests that they may have at least partly followed through on their plotting and brought weapons closer to the Capitol, even if they opted against carrying them in. (Whether they brought guns is unclear at the moment.) The defendants in question are alleged to have carried knives, meaning that at least certain weapons were present.
Sandlin and DeGrave’s new charges also cover assaults that they perpetrated against officers on the Capitol grounds. Sandlin “attempted to rip the helmet off an officer,” that U.S. Attorney’s office press release says, adding that Sandlin and DeGrave later “tried to wrestle past [Capitol Police] officers and eventually managed to enter the [Senate] Gallery.” The pair’s more serious charges and their continued detention place them among the rioters facing the most serious consequences so far. The reality checks are still rolling in for those who thought they could storm the Capitol with little in terms of consequences.