Washington (CNN) — Supporters of then-President Donald Trump brought dozens of weapons to Washington on the day of the insurrection, according to the Justice Department. This undermines claims by at least one Republican senator who said the attack was not an “armed insurrection,” according to a CNN review of court records.
Some of the weapons that were confiscated had been used inside the United States Capitol, including a baseball bat, a fire extinguisher, a wooden club, a spear, crutches, a flag pole, bear spray, pepper gas, chemical irritants, stolen police shields, a wooden beam, a hockey stick, a stun gun, and knives.
Many of these weapons were used to attack the police officers who were guarding the Capitol.
One of the leading theories about the death of Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick is that the suspects sprayed an irritant, perhaps bear spray, which caused Sicknick to suffer a fatal reaction, a US official told CNN. Federal investigators are narrowing down their suspects in the homicide investigation.
The hand-to-hand combat sent more than a dozen officers to the hospital, including some who suffered concussions and bone fractures. The former chief of the U.S. Capitol Police said his agents battled the armed crowd for about an hour before rioters dominated police lines.
Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, caused controversy this week after downplaying the attack that left five people dead and more than 100 police officers injured. In addition, two officers died by suicide in the days after the insurrection.
In an interview with a Milwaukee radio station, Johnson condemned the assault on the Capitol and said it was “reprehensible and should never have happened.”
But he later claimed that the “edited” videos made the situation seem worse than it was and apparently defended the violent mob.
“This didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me,” Johnson said in an interview with WISN in Milwaukee. When you hear the word ‘armed’, don’t you think of firearms? These are the questions I would have liked to ask: How many firearms were confiscated? How many shots were fired?
Police said they found a gun on Christopher Alberts as he was leaving the Capitol. The Maryland native tried to flee but was stopped by officers, who also found 25 rounds of ammunition, according to court documents. Alberts allegedly told police he had the weapon for “personal protection” and has yet to plead guilty, according to court records.
Other Trump supporters who came to Washington but did not enter the Capitol were discovered with a wide range of extremely dangerous weapons, according to the CNN review.
Lonnie Coffman of Alabama was arrested near the Capitol shortly before the attack and was found with what a judge called a “little armory” in his truck. Investigators uncovered three pistols, 11 Molotov cocktails, a crossbow with bolts, smoke bombs and a stun gun, according to court documents. Coffman, 70, pleaded not guilty last month to a 17-count criminal charge.
Prosecutors have not accused Coffman of participating in the attack on the Capitol, and his attorney said at a hearing that Coffman was “innocent” of the charges.
Someone planted two tube bombs near the headquarters of the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee, a few blocks from the Capitol. The FBI said the bombs were real but did not explode and have increased the cash reward for information about the perpetrator.
Nonpartisan fact-checker PolitiFact gave Johnson a rating of “pants on fire” for his false claim that the rioters were not “armed.” Johnson’s office has not responded to CNN’s request for comment.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism