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Former Orange County police chief and Stop the Steal organizer is indicted on Capitol riot conspiracy charges

Anita Chabria, Paige St. John, Del Quentin Wilber, Richard Winton and Hannah Fry, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

The group, according to court documents, described itself as serving as the communications point for militants traveling to the Capitol.

At the rally, prosecutors allege that Taylor urged on rioters attempting to push through police, yelling, “Move forward Americans.”

Taylor made a selfie video as he and Hostetter headed down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, police lights and officers gathered and Taylor declared, “We’ll see who these guys end up working for.” They joined rioters on the Lower West Terrace, and Taylor could be seen carrying a knife in his front chest pocket of his plate carrier vest and urging “rioters to push through another line of officers on a lower level.”

Martinez and Kinnison, wearing a gas mask, were present among rioters on the restricted Upper West Terrace of the Capitol, while Mele shot a selfie on his cellphone, declaring, “We stormed the Capitol.”

Hostetter is visible armed with his bullhorn, but exhorting demonstrators as they were pushed back by police to be careful: to walk, not run.

Social media pictures showed Hostetter and Taylor grinning from one of the terraces while the Capitol was under siege.

Indicted were Hosetter, 56, of San Clemente; Taylor, 40, of Ladera Ranch; Warner, 45 of Menifee; Mele, 51 of San Clemente: and Martinez, 47, and Kinnison, 39, both from Lake Elsinore.

They each face a charge of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding, obstruction of law enforcement during a civil disorder and two counts of entering and remaining on restricted grounds while carrying a dangerous or deadly weapon.

 

They were also indicted for tampering with documents or proceedings and unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon on the Capitol grounds.

In the wake of the violent insurrection, Hostetter and Taylor tried to distance themselves from it.

Three weeks after the Capitol invasion, the FBI agents with the support of SWAT officers searched the homes of Hostetter and Taylor. In his private Telegram channel, Taylor portrayed himself as the victim.

“The fbi is fully weaponized against patriots,” he said in a message reposted to Facebook. “I never went into the Capitol, no violence no damage to property. All this for waving a flag and singing the national anthem!”

Taylor’s lawyer offered a different description, conceding his client carried a knife onto Capitol grounds but saying he didn’t enter the building and was “caught up in a wave of rhetoric and excitement.”

“Russ Taylor is a normal person who got very emotionally wrapped up in his belief in those freedoms that made America the America he believes in,” Huish told the Los Angeles Times in March.

What happened, Taylor’s lawyer said, is a “cautionary tale of when there’s too much political noise that one can’t see clearly.”

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