ORLANDO, Fla. – FBI agents arrested five Orlando-area men on Wednesday, linking them to a larger investigation into a militia that planned violence on the steps of the U.S. Capitol last year.
John Edward Crowley, 50, of Windermere, Jonathan Alan Rockholt, 38, of Palm Coast and Tyler Quintin Bensch, 20, of Casselberry, appeared for their initial appearance at the federal courthouse in Orlando on Wednesday afternoon.
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They were allowed to walk out of the courthouse on the condition they appear for future court dates.
Investigators said Benjamin Cole, 38, of Leesburg, was arrested in Louisville, Kentucky, and made his initial court appearance there, while, Brian Preller, 33, of Mount Dora, was arrested in Hardwick, Vermont, and made his initial appearance there.
According to court records, the five are linked to a militia group called B Squad, which identifies with the ideology of Three Percenters.
The Southern Poverty Law Center says “Three Percenters” often believe the government is working to infringe on citizens’ rights.
According to the FBI’s investigative report, investigators allege 45 members of B Squad traveled from Florida to D.C., where they stayed at a hotel near the Capitol.
Investigators claim members of the group, armed with knives, batons and pepper spray, were seen on closed circuit surveillance video entering the tunnel at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, where they joined the crowd in trying to “heave-ho” passed law enforcement.
They wrote many of them were armed with knives, pepper spray, batons and other tools that could be used as weapons.
The report also shows pictures and talks about B Squad’s leader, but his name has been redacted from the report.
According to the report, the five members of the group were identified by cross referencing the images on surveillance cameras to pictures and videos posted on social media channels.
For example, they say they partially identified Bensch with a ring he wore on his right forefinger and military fatigues he was seen wearing on a modeling website.
“It appears he has posted images of himself wearing what appear to be the same or very similar military fatigues and drab scarf as those he wore on Jan. 6, 2021,” the report read.
Cole, Preller, Crowley and Rockholt were all charged with civil disorder and entering a restricted building or grounds.
If convicted, they face a maximum of six years in prison and $250,000 fine.
Bensch was charged with entering a restricted building or grounds.
If convicted he faces a maximum of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.