WASHINGTON – US law enforcement has launched a criminal investigation into the Capitol attack, involving hundreds of investigators to identify and arrest the criminals, officials said.
Acting DC Attorney Michael Sherwin said 15 people were indicted in a federal court in Washington DC over the riot, and another 40 were brought before a district high court on charges related to what happened in the immediate run-up to the riot.
Most are accused of illegally entering the Capitol grounds.
The charges include theft of state property and violations of the rules for the use of firearms.
One man was arrested outside the Capitol on charges of carrying a semi-automatic assault weapon and 11 Molotov cocktails, Sherwin said.
As a result of the riots, four people were killed and several dozen were injured.
The arrests are just the first step in efforts to bring those responsible to justice, Sherwin said.
“It was obviously a very dangerous situation,” he said. “We are trying to get these cases resolved as soon as possible, and although only 15 cases have been filed so far, this is a good start, but it is by no means the end.”
Filing so many charges in just 36 hours underlines the aggressive approach of the prosecutor’s office.
Since most of the rioters have been cleared by Capitol police to go home, efforts to identify and arrest criminals could take months, if not a year, Sherwin explained.
Hundreds of investigators are looking at surveillance footage and social media posts to identify those responsible.
“We will aggressively press charges in these cases,” Sherwin said.
Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen said, “The Justice Department is committed to ensuring that those responsible for this attack on our government and the rule of law are held accountable for their actions in accordance with the law.”
FBI Director Christopher Ray assured that his department “will use all investigative resources” to bring charges against criminals.
The attack, which Rosen called “an unacceptable attack on the fundamental institution of American democracy,” began as members of Congress held a joint meeting to certify the presidential election.
Many blame President Donald Trump for inciting the unrest, who, during a rally, called on his supporters to continue challenging the election results.