Feb 23, 2021
Capitol Police Capt. Carneysha Mendoza shares powerful testimony on riot
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At the start of a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Capitol Captain Carneysha Mendoza delivered a chilling testimony regarding the security breach during the deadly January 6 insurrection. She also provided details of how terrifying that day truly was.
Read More: Security officials cast blame for Jan. 6 failures at Capitol
The former U.S. Army veteran told lawmakers her arm was almost broken as anarchists stormed the Capitol. She also added that her face was burned due to chemicals used by the mob.
“I proceeded to the Rotunda where I noticed a heavy smoke-like residue and smelled what I believed to be military-grade CS gas — a familiar smell. It was mixed with fire extinguisher spray deployed by the rioters. The rioters continued to deploy CS into the Rotunda,” shared Mendoza, who serves in the Special Operations Division as a captain.
“Officers received a lot of gas exposure, which is worse inside the building than outside because there’s nowhere for it to go,” she added. “I received chemical burns to my face that still have not healed to this day.”
The captain explains she has worked unruly events at the Capitol before and has been called “so many names so many times that I’m numb to it now.” But Mendoza who is also a mother to a ten-year-old labels the January 6 event as one of the “worse” events she has ever worked. She was home with her child when she was called to come in around 1:30 p.m.
Read More: Proud Boys calling Rep. Bennie Thompson’s phone over Capitol riot lawsuit
“We could have had ten times the amount of people working with us and I still believe this battle would have been just as devastating,” said the captain.
“At some point, my right arm got wedged between the rioters and railing along the wall,” Mendoza said. “A (DC police) sergeant pulled my arm free and had he not, I’m certain it would have been broken.”
Capitol Police Capt. Carneysha Mendoza, who worked on recovery efforts for the 9/11 Pentagon attack, speaks at Capitol riot hearing: "There are certain lessons that always stuck with me after 9/11. One of those lessons is knowing the unthinkable is always possible — so be ready" pic.twitter.com/fC573uDlca— CBS News (@CBSNews) February 23, 2021
She added that she saw her fellow officers have objects thrown at them and that almost 140 were injured.
“After a couple of hours, officers cleared the Rotunda but had to physically hold the door closed because it had been broken by the rioters,” said Mendoza. “Officers begged me for relief as they were unsure how long they could physically hold the door closed with the crowd continually banging on the outside of the door, attempting to gain re-entry. Eventually, officers were able to secure the door with furniture and other objects.”
Five people in total died that day, including Capitol police officer Brian D. Sicknick.
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Over 300 charged from more than 40 states: What we know about the "unprecedented" Capitol riot arrests
America watched as hordes of rioters broke into the U.S. Capitol on January 6 — crushing through windows, pressing up stairways, and sending lawmakers and law enforcement running for their lives. The flood of protesters who streamed into the Capitol that day left federal authorities with an equally immense task: finding and charging those responsible.
Federal prosecutors have now charged more than 300 people and arrested more than 280 in connection with the events of January 6, Acting Deputy Attorney General John Carlin said Friday. A Justice Department official said this week that the department had opened files on approximately 540 subjects.
"The investigation into those responsible is moving at a speed and scale that's unprecedented, and rightly so. Those responsible must be held to account, and they will be," Carlin said.
As law enforcement continues to round up alleged attackers, here's what CBS News has learned about the people who were arrested:How many have been charged?
Over 300 defendants have been charged in federal court. CBS News has reviewed the charging documents for 267 defendants whose cases were unsealed, and of those, at least 87 were also indicted by grand juries.Where did they come from?
The alleged rioters come from at least 42 states outside of Washington, D.C. Among those arrested whose home states were known, the most were from Texas, with 26 Texans charged so far. New York had 22 residents arrested while Florida and Pennsylvania each had 20.Assault On The U.S. Capitol Assault On The U.S. Capitol More
- Over 300 charged so far: What we know about the Capitol riot arrests
- FBI director says Capitol attack was "domestic terrorism"
- FBI focusing on one possible suspect in Capitol officer's death
- How Black Americans viewed the Capitol riot
- Lawmakers press acting Capitol Police chief on January 6 preparations
At least 24 of those arrested are veterans and three are currently enlisted in the military — two in the Army Reserve and one in the National Guard — according to military service records and court documents obtained by CBS News.
Of the veterans, 12 have served in the U.S. Marines, eight served in the Army, two served in the Navy and one served in the Air Force.
The Army Reserve shared the following statement with CBS News: "The U.S. Army Reserve takes all allegations of Soldier or Army civilian involvement in extremist groups seriously and will address this issue in accordance with Army regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice to ensure due process. Extremist ideologies and activities directly oppose our values and beliefs and those who subscribe to extremism have no place in our ranks."How many worked in law enforcement?
At least five of those arrested were employed as law enforcement officers at the time of the riot, and at least three of those arrested had previously worked as police officers. Prosecutors also charged one current firefighter and one retired firefighter.
Of the five police officers, four have since lost their jobs. An officer in North Cornwall Township, Pennsylvania was suspended without pay after he was charged with, among other crimes, obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder. Houston police officer Tam Dinh Pham and Monmouth County correctional police officer Marissa Suarez both resigned after they were arrested, and two Virginia police officers were fired after prosecutors charged them for their alleged conduct at the Capitol.
Laura Steele, a member of the Oath Keepers militia indicted for conspiracy, worked for the High Point Police Department in North Carolina for 12 years before she was terminated for conduct toward superior personnel, absence from duty, and violating a communications policy, a spokesperson for High Point Police said. Her husband, Kenneth Steele — who was not alleged to be at the Capitol riot — retired on January 1 as assistant police chief. Thomas Webster, who prosecutors said is a former New York Police Department officer, was charged after he allegedly lunged at a Capitol Police officer with a metal flagpole during the Capitol riot. Nicholes Lentz — who the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said is a former officer in the North Miami Beach and Fort Pierce police departments — was charged after posting videos from inside the Capitol. In a video, he said, "We're not here to hurt any cops of course. I love my boys in blue, but this is overwhelming for them."
Additionally, firefighter and paramedic Andrew Williams was arrested for his participation in the riot, and retired firefighter Robert Sanford was arrested and accused of throwing a fire extinguisher that hit three police officers in the head.Common charges
Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin said in January that prosecutors would move away from charging the easily identifiable "internet stars" who appeared in photos and on social media and begin to build more complicated conspiracy cases related to militia groups' coordination during the attack. So far, at least 18 have been charged with conspiracy, a charge that alleges they coordinated with others to commit an offense.
More than 20 have been charged under a destruction of government property statute. During proceedings for two of those defendants, the government said their crimes amounted to "terrorism" — an allegation that is not itself a charge but could influence prison sentences if the men are found guilty.
The FBI told CBS News in February that 40 people have been arrested for assault on law enforcement officers. The crime carries penalties ranging from one to 20 years, depending on the circumstances of the assault. Federal prosecutors have also charged at least 195 alleged rioters with "restricted building or grounds" charges.How many have extremist affiliations?
Authorities have connected at least 35 alleged rioters to extremist groups, including the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Texas Freedom Force and the conspiracy group QAnon.How many were women?
While those arrested in the January 6 mob were mostly men, at least 35 women have also been arrested for their alleged participation.How old were those arrested?
Among the 83 defendants whose ages are known, the average age was 42. The youngest-known alleged rioter is 18-year-old Bruno Joseph Cua, who prosecutors accused of assaulting an officer after he posted online, "President Trump is calling us to FIGHT!"
The oldest rioters were two 70-year-old men: Bennie Parker, an alleged Oath Keeper, and Lonnie Coffman, an Alabama man who authorities say brought a car full of weapons and explosives to Washington, D.C.How many have been released?
At least 127 people have been approved to go home after posting bail or agreeing to supervised release.How many leads are being followed?
FBI Director Christopher Wray said Tuesday that citizens from around the country had sent the FBI more than 270,000 digital media tips. Wray said, "With their help, we've identified hundreds of suspects and opened hundreds of investigations in all but one of our 56 field offices."Recent updates on notable cases
The FBI is focusing on one man as a possible suspect in the death of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, according to a U.S. official.
A Capitol riot suspect was turned in by his ex after he texted her, "If you can't see the election was stolen you're a moron."
An Oath Keepers member, Jessica Watkins, on Tuesday became the third Capitol rioter accused of committing a "crime of terrorism."
The daughter of a Virginia man arrested during the U.S. Capitol assault said her father is "brainwashed."
Paulina Smolinski contributed to this report.