On Thursday, an active-duty US Marine officer was arrested in Virginia and charged with using violence against police during the January 6 invasion of the US Capitol by a group of Trump supporters.
Major Christopher Warnagiris, the first active-duty member of the US armed forces to be charged in connection with the riot, is accused of moving through a line of Capitol police and forcing his way through a doorway in the East Rotunda.
Warnagiris, a 40-year-old resident of Woodbridge, Virginia, is accused of assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers, obstructing law enforcement, obstructing Congress, violent entry, and disorderly conduct on Capitol Grounds, and entering or remaining in a restricted building without lawful authority.
Warnagiris faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison if convicted of the charges, which will be heard in federal court in Washington.
According to Marines, Warnagiris is currently assigned to the training and education command of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Staff Training Program at the Marine base in Quantico, Virginia.
When Warnagiris appeared in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on Thursday afternoon, a judge ordered his release.
In addition to Warnagiris, at least four other current service members are among the more than 400 defendants in pending Capitol riot prosecutions: two Army Reserve soldiers and two members of the National Guard from different states. In such cases, more than a dozen military veterans have also been arrested.
According to court records, after entering the Capitol aggressively, Warnagiris put himself in the doorway’s corner and used his body to prop it open and drag other rioters inside. Video surveillance shows Warnagiris shoving a cop who attempted to close the door.
The Marine Corps said in a statement confirming that Warnagiris is on active duty: “The Marine Corps is clear on this: There is no place for racial hatred or extremism in the Marine Corps. Our strength is derived from the individual excellence of every Marine regardless of background. Bigotry and racial extremism run contrary to our core values.” The statement continued “Participation with hate or extremist groups of any kind is directly contradictory to the core values of honor, courage, and commitment that we stand for as Marines and isn’t tolerated by the Marine Corps.” Adding that, “We expect every Marine to treat their fellow Marines with dignity and respect. 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.”
The complaint said Warnagiris was named by a member of the public on March 16 after that person saw three images of a man who had entered the Capitol. The witness was able to identify Warnagiris after working for him for 6 months in 2019.
A second witness, “who has worked with Warnagiris for approximately nine months and tends to see him in close proximity several times a week” recognized him in the same photographs as the first witness.
Approximately 440 people have been arrested on charges related to the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, which started after Trump ordered a crowd of supporters outside the White House to march there.