An active-duty Marine Corps
officer was arrested on Thursday for his alleged role in the violent Jan. 6 attack
on the Capitol
, in which a horde of right-wing supporters of former President Donald Trump
disrupted a joint session of Congress
in order to prevent the certification of 2020 election
Marine Corps Major Christopher Warnagiris, 40, is charged with "assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers," "violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds," and "obstruction of justice/Congress."
Over 40 people
have been arrested on charges related to the Capitol insurgency, with Warnagiris appearing to be the first active-duty service member charged.
Warnagiris is a field artillery officer currently stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico, where he works to “improve the warfighting skills of senior commanders and their staffs,” according to an official description of the training program to which he has been assigned.
He joined the Marine Corps in 2002 and has served on multiple deployments, including in the wars in Afghanistan
and Iraq, receiving over a dozen military awards.
According to Maj. J.A. Hernandez, a Marine Corps spokesperson, "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 is not tolerated by the Marine Corps."
“We are proud that Marines come from every race, creed, cultural background, and walk of life,” Hernandez said, 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 arrest of Warnagiris comes as the Pentagon
struggles to deal
with extremists in the ranks of the US military
. In February, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin issued a military-wide stand-down order, requiring commanders to have “needed discussions” with troops about extremism
extremism scholars have long expressed concern about the large number of far-right extremists serving in the military, where they receive combat training that they can then use against civilian targets.
According to a criminal complaint, security camera footage shows Warnagiris violently entering the Capitol on Jan. 6 after pushing past police
officers guarding doors into the East Rotunda while wearing a "dark backpack with bright green zippers, a military green backpack, and black and tan gloves."
Once inside, Warnagiris allegedly pressed his body
against the door to keep it open, luring other rioters inside; the criminal complaint claims that security camera footage, as well as footage captured by RMG News, show him pushing back a police officer who tries to close the door.
VIDEO: I put together this clip of active duty USMC officer Christopher Warnagiris preventing a police officer from closing the door and assisting others in breaching the #Capitol. In the final seconds, the police officer falls backwards to the floor. pic.twitter
.com/aSzFL5IRVo— John Scott-Railton (@jsrailton) May 13, 2021
On March 16, a member of the public contacted the FBI
after recognizing Warnagiris in photos the agency had posted online of suspects. FBI agents obtained government photographs of Warnagiris and confirmed the resemblance. The agents then interviewed one of Warnagiris' coworkers at Quantico, who identified him as the man in the video footage.
Warnagiris, who did not respond to Stardia's request for comment, appeared in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia
, on Thursday and stated that he is looking for an attorney.
He was released on personal recognizance and ordered not to leave the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area unless the court granted permission.
A spokesperson for the Naval Criminal Investigation Services, Jeff Houston
, confirmed that the agency is cooperating with the FBI on the case but declined to comment further.
Ryan Reilly provided reporting assistance.