Most heavily armed January 6 rioter pleads guilty to bringing five firearms and 11 Molotov cocktails to Capitol

Lonnie Coffman admits federal weapons charges after bringing arsenal of firearms and explosive devices to Capitol

Rachel Sharp
Saturday 13 November 2021 16:27 GMT
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The most heavily armed person charged over the January 6 riot has pleaded guilty to bringing five firearms and 11 Molotov cocktails to the Capitol.

Lonnie Coffman, a 71-year-old military veteran from Alabama, pleaded guilty on Friday to federal weapons charges including possession of destructive devices and carrying a pistol without a license.

Coffman’s truck was discovered parked close to the Capitol containing the vast arsenal of weapons, including the home-made Molotov cocktails.

He was the first person to be charged in connection to the January 6 riot, where Donald Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of the electoral college for President Joe Biden.

Five people including a Capitol police officer were killed in the chaos and lawmakers were forced to flee for their lives as heavily-armed rioters ransacked the building.

Coffman admitted in a plea hearing at a US District Court on Friday that he had travelled to the US Capitol with the trove of weapons and parked his truck on Capitol Hill days before the violent insurrection.

He told Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly he knew the ingredients made an improvised explosive device.

However, he continued to insist that he did not intend to use any of the weapons and believed the gasoline was too old to be “deadly”.

According to the affidavit, law enforcement officers found Coffman’s truck containing the weapons while doing a sweep of the area close to the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee headquarters.

Officers were doing a search after finding two pipe bombs had been left – one at each of the buildings. Coffman is not accused of planting those bombs.

Two police officers noticed Coffman’s red pickup truck with Alabama licence plates parked nearby and saw the handle of a firearm on the front passenger seat, the affidavit states.

A search of the vehicle uncovered a cooler containing 11 Mason jars filled with gasoline, cloth rags and lighters – the components consistent with a homemade bomb that can create a napalm-like explosion.

Officers also found hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a loaded shotgun, loaded assault rifle, loaded revolver, a crossbow, several machetes and a stun gun.

The car also contained a handwritten note of an Abraham Lincoln quote about overthrowing "the men who pervert the constitution”.

Coffman was arrested that day when he went to return to his car.

He was found to be carrying two loaded pistols on his person at the time.

The suspect was indicted on 14 federal counts of weapons charges in January and has been held in prison since.

Under the plea deal, Coffman pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of destructive devices for the 11 Molotov cocktails and to unlawfully carrying a pistol without a license while the rest of the charges were dropped.

The 71-year-old has also pleaded guilty to one federal charge in a separate case after authorities discovered 12 additional Molotov cocktails at his home.

Coffman is due to be sentenced on 1 April, where the judge said he wants to hear from him about his intentions at the Capitol riot.

He faces up to 46 months in prison under the plea deal, although prosecutors could ask for a higher sentence under a terrorism enhancement.

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