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Ohio Couple Tied To Far-Right Militia Charged In U.S. Capitol Breach

Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington.
Julio Cortez
Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington.

The FBI says an Ohio couple linked to the Oath Keepers militia group were among those involved in last month's breach of the U.S. Capitol.

A criminal complaint names 60-year-old Sandra Parker and her husband, 70-year-old Bennie Parker, both of Warren County in southwestern Ohio. They were arrested Thursday on charges including conspiracy and destruction of government property.

The complaint filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. accuses Sandra Parker of joining with members of the Oath Keepers, who formed "a military-style 'stack' formation that marched up the center steps on the east side of the U.S. Capitol, breached the door at the top, and then stormed the building," according to a U.S. Justice Department press release.

The complaint says Bennie Parker stayed outside while communicating with those inside. Both he and Sandra Parker were "dressed in a uniform consisting of camouflaged-combat attire."

Messages seeking comment were left for their attorneys.

In the complaint, the Justice Department calls the Oath Keepers a "large but loosely organized collection of militia who believe that the federal government has been coopted by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights."

The Parkers are the latest of several Ohio militia members charged over their involvement in the insurrection.

Champaign County residents Jessica Watkins and Donovan Crowl, both members of the Ohio State Regular Militia – a subset of the Oath Keepers – face three charges apiece. Watkins is accused of recruiting others to join militia training ahead of the inauguration, and helped coordinate a group of militia members in breaching the Capitol.

The recent criminal complaint includes communications between the Parkers and Watkins ahead of, during and following the riot, and alleges that the Parkers traveled with Watkins and Crowl from Ohio to D.C.

"I've been following FBI wanted list, seems they're only interested in people who destroyed things. I wouldn't worry about them coming after us," Watkins texted Bennie Parker on January 9. "I'm sure they're not on us see some pics but no militia," Parker responded.

In addition to the militia members, Columbus residents Dustin Thompson and Robert Lyon were charged last month with illegally entering the Capitol and violent and disorderly conduct on Capitol Grounds, after driving to D.C. together for the pro-Trump rally.

Stephen Ayres of Warren, Justin Stoll of Wilmington and former Cleveland Schools employee Christine Priola have also been charged.

Gabe Rosenberg joined WOSU in October 2016. As digital news editor, Gabe reports breaking news and edits all content for the WOSU website, as well as manages the station's social media accounts.