A veteran and member of the Oath Keepers testified Wednesday that the far-right group amassed more weapons outside Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021, than he had seen since his days in the military.
Terry Cummings told the jury during the second week of the historic seditious conspiracy trial that he traveled to Washington with several members of a group from Florida, bringing his own AR-15 rifle and ammunition box to contribute to the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) allegedly established by the group in a hotel outside the city.
“I have not seen that many weapons in one location since I was in the military,” Cummings, who showed his rifle and ammunition to the jury during his testimony, said.
Cummings, 66, testified he traveled to DC with one of the defendants, Kenneth Harrelson, and was instructed by another defendant, Kelly Meggs, to take weapons up to a hotel room in Virginia where the group was allegedly staging the QRF.
When asked what his intention was in bringing the AR-15, Cummings testified that “it would potentially be used, not as an offensive situation, but more as a show of force,” adding that “there had been ongoing riots throughout the country, and it was to be used with the other Oath Keeper members just to have (a) presence.”
Cummings has not been charged in connection with January 6.
On the night of January 5, Cummings shared a hotel room with Jason Dolan, an Oath Keeper from Florida who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy, he testified.
When the group woke up on January 6, they loaded into a minivan and went to the Ellipse, Cummings said. He and other Oath Keepers were working a security detail for a “VIP,” Cummings told the jury, though he couldn’t remember the name of the person he was assigned to protect.
“I wasn’t really sure at the time [why we left] but we had been asked to escort a VIP from the rally to the Capitol,” he testified.
During the walk, Meggs informed the group that “they had breached the Capitol,” Cummings said. Though Cummings said he wasn’t sure at the time who “they,” were, he was concerned that people were “breaking into or entering in an area people shouldn’t be in.”
The scene at the Capitol when the group arrived was like nothing he had ever seen before, Cummings testified. He described a swarm of people all over the building, climbing on walls and “mulling around.”
When other members entered the Capitol – allegedly including Meggs and Harrelson – Cummings said he was looking for a bathroom. He did not know what happened while other members were inside the building.
When the other Oath Keepers left the Capitol and regrouped, “they were having conversations about having… encountered a Capitol police officer inside” the building who was standing on stairs and “being confronted by people inside the Capitol,” Cummings said.
“The impression I got was they were glad they were there to intervene in a potential bad situation,” Cummings said.
Throughout his entire trip to Washington, DC, Cummings testified on cross-examination, he “did not hear of any plans” to storm the building.
“At any point during the entire day, the ride from Florida two days before, camping out in North Carolina the night of the fourth, driving from North Carolina on the fifth… did you ever hear any human being discussing the activities you saw on January 6,” James Lee Bright, a defense attorney for Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, asked Cummings.
“No,” He responded. If he had heard those sorts of conversations, Cummings said, he would have “turned around” and reported the group to law enforcement.
He was also not aware of any order from Rhodes to activate the QRF, Cummings told the jury, adding that the Oath Keepers he was with did not bring weapons into DC because “it’s illegal to do so.” He also testified that he did not look inside anyone’s gun case except his own at the QRF and could not confirm whether there were actually firearms inside.
Harrelson, Meggs, Rhodes, and their codefendants Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell have all pleaded not guilty to seditious conspiracy.