In a dramatic turn of events, a top federal prosecutor in Washington DC said on Friday that there is no "direct evidence of kill and capture teams" among the rioters who stormed into the Capitol on January 6. This comes just a day after federal prosecutors in Arizona had said in court documents that rioters sought to "capture and assassinate elected officials" during the Capitol riot.
Following this, an Arizona prosecutor asked a magistrate judge later in the day to strike the allegation from the court filing related to Jacob Chansley, the "QAnon Shaman" who was widely spotted in photos donning a fur headdress and red, white, and blue face paint.
The acting US attorney in Washington told reporters on Friday that investigators had found no "direct evidence" of "kill/capture" teams at the riot, exactly the opposite of what was claimed a day earlier. Prosecutors in Arizona had claimed on Thursday that rioters, especially Chansley, who was photographed standing at Vice President Mike Pence's desk in the Senate chambers, had sought to "capture and assassinate" elected officials. In the filing, prosecutors alleged that Chansley left a note for Pence saying, "It's only a matter of time, justice is coming."
They also wrote: "Strong evidence, including Chansley's own words and actions at the Capitol, supports that the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States Government."
A federal prosecutor in Arizona has now asked a magistrate judge to strike a line in the initial filing related to Chansley after acting US attorney Michael Sherwin said that there may have been a "disconnect" between his office, which is leading the prosecution effort, and local offices on the evidence obtained so far in the cases, according to Reuters.
Too Early to Conclude
While most of the incidents on the day of the riot so far involve minor offenses like trespassing and disorderly conduct, Sherwin has promised a lengthy investigation that could lead to charges of seditious conspiracy and felony murder. According to a CNN report, Todd Allison, a prosecutor for the Justice Department in Arizona, said DOJ may want to argue the capture and kill assertion if Chansley goes to trial, but can't say that at this time.
Five people died in the riot, including a police officer who was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher. The FBI has been tracking over 200 suspects related to the breach at the Capitol and has made quite a few arrests.
Chansley, along with Lt. Col. Larry Brock, who was dressed in a military-style helmet and vest, have been the center of the legal debate over whether there is enough evidence to allege that they intended to harm elected officials and capture the Capitol on that day. In fact, Chansley had called up the FBI's Washington field office the next day and confessed his participation but said he didn't mean his note as a threat.
However, that didn't convince the Arizona prosecutors, who in their filing mentioned: "Although he stated his note was not a threat, the government strongly disagrees." Chansley has been charged with obstruction of an official proceeding, entering and remaining in a restricted building, and disorderly and disruptive conduct, among other charges.
However, Sherwin's statement on Friday that the there is no "direct evidence of kill and capture teams" once again has put a question mark on the way the investigations are being conducted.