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Marine Corps officer arrested for assault in Jan. 6 riot

Alanna Durkin Richer
Associated Press

An active-duty Marine Corps officer seen on camera scuffling with a police officer and helping other members of the pro-Trump mob force their way into the Capitol on Jan. 6 has been charged in the riot, federal prosecutors said Thursday.

Maj. Christopher Warnagiris, 40, of Woodbridge, Virginia, is the first active-duty service member to be charged in the insurrection, the Department of Justice said. Warnagiris, who has been stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico since last summer, was arrested Thursday in Virginia, prosecutors said.

FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2021 file photo insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump try to open a door of the U.S. Capitol as they riot in Washington.

He faces charges including assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers, obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder and obstruction of justice.

Warnagiris, a field artillery officer who joined the Marine Corps in 2002 and completed tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was ordered released after a brief appearance before a federal judge in Virginia. It was not immediately clear Thursday if he had an attorney to comment on his behalf.

Warnagiris, who was wearing a dark jacket, military green backpack and black and tan gloves, pushed past police officers standing guard outside Capitol doors and forced his way into the building, according to court documents. He then appeared to use his body to keep the door partially open and helped pull others inside, authorities said.

A U.S. Capitol Police officer, who moved between Warnagiris and the crowd outside, tried to pull the door shut while Warnagiris fought to keep it open, court documents say. The officer told the FBI that he had tried to push Warnagiris out of the way and the man shoved him back, authorities said.

A former coworker who recognized Warnagiris in photos reported him to the FBI in March, court documents say. The next day, FBI agents went to his military command and showed pictures to someone he works with, who identified the man in the photos as Warnagiris.

The Marine Corps said in a statement that “there is no place for racial hatred or extremism” in its ranks.

“Those who can’t value the contributions of others, regardless of background, are destructive to our culture, our warfighting ability, and have no place in our ranks,” it said.

More than 400 people have been charged so far in the siege. Among them are four members or reservists of the National Guard and about 40 military veterans, according to the Justice Department.

The charges against the rioters range from misdemeanor offenses, such as disorderly conduct in a restricted building, to serious conspiracy cases against members and associates of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers extremist groups.

Associated Press reporters Michael Balsamo and Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report from Washington.