WASHINGTON -Three active duty Marines have been charged with participating in the riot at the U.S. Capitol, authorities said in newly filed court papers. All three Marines, who were arrested more than two years after the attack, work in jobs connected to the intelligence community.
Micah Coomer, Joshua Abate, and Dodge Dale Hellonen — three men identified by investigators as active-duty Marines — were arrested on four charges each stemming from their participation in the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol in a bid to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
There have been 943 people charged with offenses related to the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The three Marines are the first active-duty military members to be arrested in connection with the siege since Marine Maj. Christopher Warnagiris, who was taken into custody in May 2021 on nine charges. He had a virtual hearing in December and his attorney, Maria Medvin, has asked for the case to be suspended and the obstruction of an official proceeding charge to be dismissed based on a ruling in a separate Jan. 6 case. He faces a possible 49 years in jail. His next hearing is scheduled virtually for 10 a.m. Feb. 24.
Despite Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin placing a priority on rooting out extremism in the ranks, the service branches have been passive at best in heeding that call. For example, a list of more than 100 active members of the military who are connected to the extremist group the Oath Keepers has been largely ignored by the military branches,
Coomer, of Indiana, is stationed in Southern California’s Camp Pendleton; Abate, of Virginia, is at Fort Meade in Maryland; and Hellonen, of Michigan, is stationed at North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune, according to the Marines.
“We honestly need a fresh restart. I’m waiting for the boogaloo,” Coomer wrote in a message detailed in court documents. When asked by the person what’s “a boogaloo,” Coomer responded “Civil war 2,” authorities said.
Coomer posted photos on Instagram that appeared to be taken inside the Capitol with the caption “Glad to be apart of history,” according to court documents. Days after the 2020 election, he and another person discussed over Instagram message how he believed the election was rigged. In late January 2021, he told another person in a message that “everything in this country is corrupt.”
The men spent about 52 minutes inside the Capitol, authorities say. At one point while in the rotunda, they put a red “Make American Great Again” hat on a statue to take pictures with it, according to court papers. Hellonen was carrying a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag, authorities said.
All three men have been enlisted in the Marines for more than four years, with Hellonen, who enlisted in August 2017, being the most senior. He is a sergeant assigned to the 3rd Marine Raider Support Battalion — a unit that supports Marine Corps Special Operations Command — also as a signals intelligence operator and analyst.
Abate, a sergeant, is assigned to the Marine Corps’ Cryptologic Support Battalion at Fort Meade, Maryland — also home to the National Security Agency headquarters — as a signals intelligence operator and analyst. Records provided by the Marine Corps show that among his awards was a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, an unusual and prestigious medal for a junior Marine.
Coomer is assigned to 1st Radio Battalion, I Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, at Camp Pendleton as a system engineer for intelligence and reconnaissance systems.
Their arrests brinsg to 12 the number of service personnel — active, reserve and National Guard — who have been arrested for alleged crimes stemming from January 6.
According to the George Washington University’s Project on Extremism, out of the 940 defendants charged with crimes stemming from Jan. 6, 118, or 12%, have some form of military background.