Group of Oath Keepers including David Moerschel outside the Capitol
David Moerschel (red arrow) is pictured marching down the east front steps of the Capitol with other Oath Keepers.
Department of Justice
  • David Moerschel, 43, is the latest alleged Oath Keepers member charged over the Capitol riot.
  • Prosecutors allege that he planned his actions on January 6 in calls with fellow militia members.
  • Surveillance images appear to show him acting in formation with other uniformed men.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A man accused of storming the Capitol as part of the Oath Keepers group extensively planned the attack online, according to federal prosecutors.

David Moerschel, 43, from Punta Gorda, Florida was arrested on Friday and charged with three counts including conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding, according to the criminal complaint.

Investigators identified Moerschel in video from the Capitol wearing Oath Keepers gear and appearing to employ military-style tactics on January 6.

The complaint says that investigators linked Moerschel's phone number to around 17 planning calls between September 28, 2020, and January 3, 2021, with other Oath Keepers charged in connection with the riot.

Other members alleged to be involved include Kelly Meggs and Kenneth Harrelson. The meetings, per the complaint, had names like "florida dc op planning chat" and "dc planning call".

The complaint did not offer details of what was discussed on the calls.

It is part of a growing body of evidence submitted by prosecutors arguing that militia groups extensively planned an attack on January 6, despite its outward appearance of a spontaneous eruption of violence.

Prosecutors have previously described Kelly Meggs as a "team leader" of the Oath Keepers. He is said to have organised an "alliance" with another militia group - the Three Percenters - ahead of the Capitol riot.

Group of Oath Keepers at Capitol Riots including David Moerschel
Surveillance footage shows David Moerschel (red arrow) and Kelly Meggs (green arrow) walking towards the eastern facade of the Capitol at 2:27 pm on January 6.
Department of Justice

The same number linked to Moerschel was found to be active in an encrypted Signal group used by Oath Keepers to coordinate in the days leading up to the insurrection, prosecutors say.

Per the complaint, Moerschel wrote under the username "Hatsy", and sent messages including "when do you want to stop for gas?" and "We have your bag, We will leave it with Kane at the QRF. We are en route there now."

(QRF is military jargon for "quick reaction force.")

Using a combination of surveillance footage and open source videos, the FBI said it identified Moerschel around the Capitol and at the Comfort Inn Ballston Hotel in Arlington, Virginia, which investigators say was used as a base for the Oath Keepers quick reaction force.

Surveillance image of US Capitol riots
Various Oath Keepers, including David Moerschel, pictured inside the Capitol on January 6.
Department of Justice

One video cited in the complaint shows a group of Oath Keepers including Moerschel approaching a set of doors leading into the Capitol in a military style "stack" formation (around the 3:08 mark).

Another surveillance video from the Comfort Inn on the day after the insurrection shows Moerschel wheeling a luggage cart with what appears to be a long gun case into an elevator.

The FBI said that on 14 June it had recovered several items from Moerschel's attorney matching those seen in the videos, including a firearms case, a gun, a black flak vest and a black jacket.

Surveillance footage showing Oath Keeper David Moerschel wheeling what appears to be a gun case in the Comfort Inn Ballston Hotel in Arlington, Virginia,
Surveillance footage shows David Moerschel transporting what appears to be a long gun case in the Comfort Inn Ballston Hotel in Arlington, Virginia on January 7.
Department of Justice

Moerschel made an initial appearance in federal court in Fort Meyers, Florida, and was conditionally released, The Washington Post reported.

His attorney Scott Weinberg told the outlet: "We look forward to proving Mr. Moerschel's innocence".

Moerschel is at least the 18th alleged Oath Keeper accused of planning an attack on January 6th.

The Oath Keepers are a far-right militia group who, according to Moerschel's criminal complaint, "believe that the federal government has been coopted by a cabal of elites actively trying to strip American citizens of their rights."

In total more than 535 people have been arrested in connection with the Capitol riot.

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