The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

National Guard soldier is fourth service member charged in Capitol riot

Rioters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. (John Minchillo/Associated Press)

A soldier in the Wisconsin National Guard was charged Monday in connection with the Capitol riot Jan. 6, becoming the fourth service member linked to the violent attempt to thwart the certification of Joe Biden’s election as president.

Abram Markofski and an associate were arrested Monday in Wisconsin and each charged with four counts related to the Capitol breach, including violent entry or disorderly conduct and entering restricted spaces, according to the Justice Department.

Markofski, a private first class, enlisted in the Army National Guard in 2019, said Maj. Joe Trovato, a spokesman for the Wisconsin National Guard. He is an infantryman assigned to the 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry Regiment.

The four service members facing federal charges in connection with the Capitol riot are all part-time troops. A Virginia National Guard soldier who was also a civilian police officer and two Army Reserve soldiers have also been charged.

At least 41 military veterans have been federally charged in the riot, according to court documents and service records obtained by The Washington Post. About 400 people overall have been charged by federal prosecutors.

The charges come as the Pentagon focuses on how to weed out possible extremists from the active-duty ranks, with a recent military-wide “stand-down” for troops to discuss the issue ahead of expected policy decisions on the matter by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Markofski and his friend, Brandon Nelson, drove from Wisconsin to Washington to attend a rally in support of President Donald Trump, investigators said. Trump, buoyed by groundless claims the election was illegitimate, encouraged supporters to take action the day that lawmakers were certifying Biden’s electoral victory.

Both men admitted to entering the Capitol during the riot, according to a probable-cause affidavit. Open-source and media images documented the two inside the building, and Markofski’s cellphone appeared to ping data from WiFi networks inside, the affidavit said.

It is unclear whether Markofski has an attorney. Additional court documents have been sealed. A judge released both men Monday pending a virtual hearing next week, and they have been barred from entering the District of Columbia, according to the Associated Press.

While the percentage of male veterans who have been charged in the riot is roughly akin to the portion of male veterans in the U.S. population overall, analysts and experts have said that military connections are “force multipliers” for extremist and militant groups that bring military training and social capital to their causes.

Several far-right and extremist groups, such as the Oathkeepers and Proud Boys, participated in the riot and count veterans among their members.