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Proud Boys leader from NC conspired to storm U.S. Capitol, newly unsealed indictment alleges
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Proud Boys leader from NC conspired to storm U.S. Capitol, newly unsealed indictment alleges

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Charles Donohoe, a Proud Boys leader and Forsyth County resident, is accused of conspiring for at least a month to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, according to an indictment unsealed on Friday. 

The indictment also said that Donohoe, 33, helped people dismantle barriers and force their way into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. The purpose was to stop the U.S. Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's win in the 2020 presidential race. 

FBI agents arrested Donohoe in Kernersville on Wednesday. Court papers say that Donohoe lives in Kernersville, though some public records indicate a Winston-Salem address. 

Federal investigators have increasingly been cracking down on Proud Boys members for their alleged role in the Jan. 6 insurrection that resulted in U.S. legislators and other officials evacuating the U.S. Capitol.

Federal prosecutors say that rioters assaulted 139 law enforcement officers and caused millions of dollars in property damage. Five people died, including a Capitol police officer. Two people have been charged with assault in connection to that police officer's death. 

Donohoe is being held in the Forsyth County Jail with no bond allowed. He is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Winston-Salem the afternoon of Friday, March 19 to determine if he will remain in custody. A detention hearing for Donohoe is scheduled for March 24. 

An indictment unsealed Friday names Donohoe and three other men, all members of Proud Boys. Prosecutors described Proud Boys as a "pro-Western fraternal organization for men ."

Prosecutors say Proud Boys members attend rallies, protests and other events. Members have engaged in violent confrontation and, in one event, Proud Boys members burned a Black Lives Matter banner in Washington, D.C. that had been hanging on a predominantly Black church. The Southern Poverty Law Center says Proud Boys is a hate group and cites the group for anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric. 

The indictment charges Donohoe and three other Proud Boys members with several charges, including conspiracy, destruction of government property and obstruction of an official proceeding. The other men were Ethan Nordean, 30, of Auborn, Washington; Joseph Biggs, 37, of Ormond, Florida; and Zachary Rehl, 35, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Donohoe is the president of the Piedmont chapter of the Proud Boys.

Nordean and Rehl are presidents of their local Proud Boys chapters, and Biggs is a Proud Boys member and self-described organizer of Proud Boys events, according to the indictment. 

Plans for the Jan. 6 "Stop the Steal" protest were announced Dec. 19, 2020. On Dec. 29, 2020, Enrique Tarrio, national chairman of the Proud Boys, said on social media that Proud Boys members would turn out in record numbers at the Jan. 6 event. He also urged members not to wear the traditional colors of the Proud Boys — black and yellow — so that they could blend in with the crowd. Donohoe, Nordean, Biggs and Rehl reinterated that message, the indictment alleges.

In January, Tarrio was taken into custody on an outstanding warrant. On Jan. 4, Donohoe told members that he was concerned that law-enforcement officers would find encrypted messages about the planned protest on Tarrio's phone, the indictment said. As a result, Donohoe created a new encrypted messaging channel, called "New MOSD." He also destroyed the old channel. The new channel included Donohoe and the three other men. 

Donohoe also sent a message on "New MOSD," which read: "Hey have been instructed and listen to me real good! There is no planning of any sorts. I need to be put into whatever new thing is created. Everything is compromised and we can be looking at Gang charges." Later, he said, "Stop everything immediately ... This comes from the top."

All four men communicated in the days before the Jan. 6 protest, including having conversations about getting radios and logistics. 

On Jan. 6, Donohoe was among a group at the First Street pedestrian entrance to the U.S. Capitol at 12:53 p.m. Shortly after, Donohoe joined in crossing over the barriers to that entrance "that had been violently disassembled and trampled by the crowd." 

As Donohoe and others marched with the crowd, they faced other barriers. Around that time, Donohoe, Nordean, Biggs and Rehl were receiving encrypted messages that people were "storming" the Capitol. 

All four men then went toward the west plaza of the U.S. Capitol. Nordean and Biggs shook a metal barricade, with Capitol police officers standing on the other side until the two men and others in the crowd were able to knock it down. Donohoe joined with other, according to the indictment, and went through the barricade. 

Nordean, Biggs and Rehl went to the front of the crowd and when they got to the police line, Biggs took a video, saying "We've just taken the Capitol."

Around 2 p.m., the indictment said, Donohoe "assisted the crowd's effort to advance upon a flight of stairs toward the Capitol. The crowd overwhelmed law enforcement who were attempting to stop the crowd from advancing." 

It's unclear from the indictment when Donohoe may have forced his way into the Capitol, but at 3:38 p.m., as some rioters were leaving, Donohoe announced on another encrypted messaging channel, that his group was "regrouping with another force."

Afterward, all four men posted on social media about the event. This is what Donohoe said, according to the indictment: "We stormed the capitol unarmed." Then, he added, "And we took it over unarmed."

WATCH NOW: Charles Donohoe talks about his beliefs in this 2019 video




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