Four Southern California men have been convicted on a litany of federal charges related to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Menifee resident Erik Scott Warner, 48; Temecula resident Ronald Mele, 54; and Lake Elsinore residents Felipe Antonio Martinez, 50, and Derek Kinnison, 42, were found guilty Tuesday of felony counts of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and obstruction of an official proceeding, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release.
All four also were convicted of misdemeanor counts of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, as well as and disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds. Additionally, Warner and Kinnison were convicted of felony counts of tampering with documents or proceedings.
The four are all members of the Three Percenters, which The Atlantic described as “an umbrella militia based on the myth that it took just 3 percent of the population to fight and win the Revolutionary War.”
They also were confederates of former La Habra Police Chief Alan Hostetter, who was convicted of similar charges earlier this year after defending himself in his trial.
Prosecutors presented evidence showing that they “coordinated and conspired together to arrange travel from California to Washington, D.C., to attend the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally and protest Congress’ certification of the Electoral College,” the release said.
“Among other methods of communication, the men used a Telegram chat entitled ‘The California Patriots – DC Brigade’ to coordinate logistics and to discuss their intentions for January 6,” authorities said. It was the deleting that Telegram chat in the weeks after the insurrection that led to Warner and Kinnison’s additional felony charges.
The Three Percenters helped stoke the chaos at the Capitol that day, prosecutors said.
“As the four men approached the Capitol at approximately 2:00 p.m., Kinnison announced, ‘This is the storm of the Capitol,’ as they moved through the crowd,” the DOJ said.
Martinez, Kinnison and Mele confronted a police line while Mele “called out for the crowd to ‘Push! Push! Push!,'” and Warner made his way into the Capitol through a broken window.
The four men, who were wearing tactical gear like plate carriers and carrying cans of bear spray, reunited at the Upper West Terrace, and the release said Mele “shot a ‘selfie’ style video, in which he proclaimed, ‘Storm the Capitol!'”
The four men’s sentencing has not been scheduled, but the DOJ said “the court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.”