Members of the Oath Keepers militia group used the Comfort Inn in Ballston as a weapons cache during the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to new details released by federal prosecutors.
Militia members brought “firearms, ammunition, and related items” to the hotel in advance of Jan. 6, federal prosecutors say. Some details of the hotel’s unwitting role in the insurrection were previously reported. Surveillance photos from the hotel show large gun cases being wheeled in on luggage carts.
Indictments against militia members for “seditious conspiracy,” unsealed last week, outline how some militia members stayed outside of D.C. that day, awaiting orders to transport weapons to the city. They used encrypted chat apps and ham radios to communicate, federal prosecutors said.
“While certain Oath Keepers members and affiliates breached the Capitol grounds and building, others remained stationed just outside of the city in quick reaction force (QRF) teams,” said a Justice Department press release. “According to the indictment, the QRF teams were prepared to rapidly transport firearms and other weapons into Washington, D.C., in support of operations aimed at using force to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power.”
In one indictment, the Comfort Inn, located along N. Glebe Road near the entrance to I-66, is referred to by militia members as the “QRF hotel.” It was apparently not the only one. The indictment also shows militia members discussing “several well equipped QRFs outside DC.”
Oath Keeper member and Phoenix resident Edward Vallejo, who is among those charged with seditious conspiracy, was one of the people who stayed behind in Ballston while violence at the Capitol raged, prosecutors say. From the indictment:
Vallejo and others were on standby at the Comfort Inn Ballston, monitoring communications from the co-conspirators on the ground inside Washington, D.C., and awaiting a call to bring the weapons to the co-conspirators.[…]
At 2:38 p.m., Vallejo messaged the Leadership Signal Chat, “QRF standing by at hotel. Just say the word…”
That night, as Congress resumed its counting of the electoral votes, Vallejo and other militia members “met at a restaurant in Vienna, Virginia to celebrate their attack on the Capitol and discuss next steps,” according to federal prosecutors. There’s no indication that the weapons ever left the hotel that day.
There is also no word in Justice Department filings about potential militia activities elsewhere in Arlington. ARLnow previously reported on a group of 8 to 10 men who gathered at the Iwo Jima memorial with communication equipment while the Capitol was attacked, but there is no indication that any of them has been accused of a crime.
Vallejo is being held in custody pending a detention hearing this week, the Washington Post reported.
Photo via Google Maps
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