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NC Woman Charged As Suspected Oath Keeper In Attack On Capitol

Capitol attack
Blink O'fanaye

Two additional North Carolina residents were arrested and charged in connection with the Jan. 6 insurgent attack on the U.S. Capitol, federal authorities said. One is a Thomasville woman who is alleged to be part of the right-wing militia group the Oath Keepers.

According to court documents released Friday, Laura Steele, 52, of Thomasville, and Lewis Easton Cantwell, 35, of Sylva, were both arrested, bringing the total of five North Carolina residents arrested in connection with the Capitol riot where five people died.

According to an indictment, Steele is alleged to be part of the right-wing militia group the Oath Keepers. She and five others were arrested this week in connection with the attack.

Charges say Steele breached the Capitol with five others, including
52-year-old Kelly Meggs, the self-described leader of the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers.

The indictment says the group ascended a flight of stairs outside the Capitol in military-style formation and then went on to breach the building. Federal prosecutors say Meggs parroted language from a tweet from former President Donald Trump weeks before the siege. Trump had encouraged his supporters to come to Washington on Jan. 6, saying it would be "wild."

"He wants us to make it WILD that's what he's saying," Meggs allegedly wrote in a Facebook post. "He called us all to the Capitol and wants us to make it wild!! Sir Yes Sir!!! Gentleman we are heading to DC."

Last month, the Justice Department charged three members of the Oath Keepers with conspiring to undermine President Biden's win. Officials said that three of the others charged had allegedly set up training for urban warfare and riot control in preparation for the Jan. 6 siege shortly after then-President-elect Joe Biden's election victory and had allegedly briefly discussed bringing weapons into Washington, D.C., by boat.

Meanwhile, Cantwell, the Sylva resident, is charged with breaching the Capitol, destroying property, interfering with a police officer, and attempting to disrupt a government activity, among other charges.

He has not been linked to the Oath Keepers.

NPR’s Dina Temple-Raston contributed to this story.