Ex-Army Ranger used his military training during Capitol riot, judge says

Robert Morss, who awaits trial for rioting on 6 January  (FBI Pittsburgh )
Robert Morss, who awaits trial for rioting on 6 January (FBI Pittsburgh )

A federal judge ordered a former US Army Ranger accused with rioting on 6 January to remain behind bars before his trial, after he was accused of using his training amid the attack.

Magistrate Judge Michael Harvey said on Tuesday that Robert Morss was “willing to use his training or experience to organise with the rioters on January 6 ... thereby making their actions more effective, more forceful and more violent”, in remarks reported by CNN.

The judge added that rioters had “appeared disorganised” until Mr Morss began issuing instructions and organising others amid the attack on the US Capitol. A total of five people died amid the violence, and hundreds more were injured.

Mr Harvey described Mr Morss as having been “in his element”, and as CBS Pittsburgh reported, was seen in videos shared to social media successfully stealing a fence, baton and protective shields from Capitol police.

He has pleaded not guilty.

“While 6 January may have passed, the fight for Mr Morss continues,” Mr Harvey added.

Among the items found by FBI investigators following Mr Morss arrest include an unconstructed Lego set of the Capitol building, and a notebook containing a “step-by-step” guide on how to form a “hometown militia”, it was reported.

Mr Harvey’s ruling followed the release of footage of the former Army Ranger from 6 January by the US Justice Department. That appeared to confirm the judge’s ruling that Mr Morss was dangerous, and so will remain behind bars until his trial.

In one of the videos released on Tuesday, Mr Morss was seen talking with other rioters before stealing a fence and a baton from Capitol police, who were defending the building from more rioters wanting to overturn the result of the 2020 election in favour of former US president Donald Trump.

In an another video, Mr Morss was reportedly seen handing stolen police shields to others.

The former Army Ranger is facing charges of civil disorder, theft of US property, and of assaulting officers. His lawyers reportedly argue that he suffers with PTSD from three combat tours in Afghanistan and has no criminal record.

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