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3 militia members charged with plotting Capitol breach

FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 file photo, supporters of President Donald Trump participate in a rally in Washington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 file photo, supporters of President Donald Trump participate in a rally in Washington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

CINCINNATI – Federal authorities presented new details on Tuesday about three self-described members of a paramilitary group who are the first to be charged with plotting the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The FBI said a Virginia man, Thomas Edward Caldwell, appeared to be a leader of the effort. Caldwell and a man and woman from Ohio were all charged with conspiracy and other federal counts, the first of more than 125 people arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 assault to be charged with conspiracy.

The chilling details in the case included communications between the defendants and others.

“All members are in the tunnels under the capital,” the FBI quoted a message sent to Caldwell during the Capitol attack. “Seal them in turn on gas.”

Other messages referred to the legislators as “traitors” and called for “night hunting."

The FBI collected social media messages, photos and video to identify them as part of the Oath Keepers, which believes in a “shadowy conspiracy” to strip Americans of their rights.

Messages included in FBI charging documents had quotes with the three suspects exulting over breaching the Capitol, and Caldwell telling an Oath Keepers leader he was ready to attack Ohio's capital of Columbus.

“We need to do this at the local level,” he allegedly messaged. “Lets (sic) storm the capitol in Ohio. Tell me when!”