Santa Ana, CA – A retired La Habra police chief was among six Southern California men indicted for their alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol Building riot, according to federal prosecutors.
Their federal grand jury indictments were unsealed on Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Among those charged were 56-year-old former La Habra Police Chief Alan Hostetter, 40-year-old Russell Taylor, 45-year-old Erik Scott Warner, 47-year-old Felipe Antonio “Tony” Martinez, 39-year-old Derek Kinnison, and 51-year-old Ronald Mele, according to KABC.
All six of the men were charged with being in restricted areas of the U.S. Capitol on the day of the riot, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Warner and Kinnison have been charged with destroying evidence, and Warner, a registered nurse, has been charged with entering the Capitol building through a busted-out window.
Taylor was charged with a weapons offense for being in possession of a blade that exceeded three inches, according to the Los Angeles Times.
According to the federal grand jury indictment, the six suspects allegedly conspired via text messages and on social media to travel to the U.S. Capitol and to bring weapons with them.
They have been accused of breaching restricted areas of the Capitol while urging other demonstrators to storm the areas along with them, according to prosecutors.
The men allegedly posted photos and videos of the event to social media throughout the day, the Los Angeles Times reported.
According to the indictment, Martinez, Warner, Mele, and Kinnison are all self-proclaimed members of “SoCal 3%,” KABC reported.
On Dec. 29, Taylor allegedly texted Hostetter, who is now a yoga instructor, and asked him if he was going to bring firearms with him to Washington, DC, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“NO NEVER (Instagram now monitors all text messages … this has been a public service announcement.)” the former police chief texted back, according to the indictment, followed by three emojis of “faces laughing with tears coming out of their eyes.”
Photos and videos from the day of the riot showed Hostetter carrying a bullhorn and smiling from a Capitol Building terrace, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Mele allegedly took a selfie with Martinez and Kinnison, who was wearing a gas mask, while they were on the Upper West Terrace of the building with other rioters, prosecutors said.
“We stormed the Capitol!” he announced, according to the indictment.
Hostetter’s attorney, Bilal Essayli, said his client never entered a restricted area of the Capitol, and that he only knew several of his co-defendants as “people on a message chat,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
Hostetter surrendered to police in Santa Ana and was released on $20,000 bail on Thursday after his arraignment.
He is due back in court on June 14.
Essayli told KABC that his client is an “activist” who “has strong views and speaks strongly.”
“He’s not a violent person, not a criminal. Even (the judge) asked if the government was aware of any facts that he engaged in any violence and use of weapons and they said no,” he said.
“It’s really concerning when the government is charging people with federal felonies for engaging in First Amendment rights,” Essayli added. “I don’t recall anyone from Antifa, Code Pink or the (Supreme Court Justice) Brett Kavanaugh hearings being arrested for disrupting Congress. There does seem to be a huge double standard.”
The former police chief also has pending misdemeanor charges out of Orange County for allegedly trying to take down a fence meant to limit beach parking during the COVID-19 restrictions in May of last year, the Los Angeles Times reported.
He was arrested on charges of refusal to disperse, trespassing, and resisting arrest during that incident and is slated to go to trial later this year.
Hostetter was sworn in as the La Habra police chief in January of 2010, but was out on medical leave within just five months, the Los Angeles Times reported.
He retired on disability by August of that year due to mental health reasons, according to the paper.