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The Jan. 6 attack: The cases behind the biggest criminal investigation in U.S. history

Editor's Note: This story includes explicit language.

Nearly every day since insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol, the list of those charged in the attack grows longer. The government has now identified more than 200 people for their alleged role in the Jan. 6 rioting, which ended with five people dead, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer.

As Congress considers a presidential impeachment related to the attack, those criminal cases provide clues to questions surrounding the incident: Who exactly joined the mob? What did they do? And why?

To try to answer those questions, NPR is examining the criminal cases related to the Capitol riot, drawing on court documents, public records, news accounts, and social media.

A group this large defies generalization. The defendants are predominantly white and male, though there were exceptions. Federal prosecutors say a former member of the Latin Kings gang joined the mob, as did two Virginia police officers; A man in a "Camp Auschwitz" sweatshirt took part, as did a Messianic Rabbi; far-right militia members decked out in tactical gear rioted next to a County Commissioner, a New York City sanitation worker, and a two-time Olympic gold medalist.

Still, NPR's examination did identify certain commonalities.

Extremist or fringe groups

There were those with connections to extremist groups or fringe ideas. At least 13 defendants appear to have expressed support for QAnon, the pro-Trump conspiracy theory.

At least 10 of the defendants appear to have links to the Proud Boys, a far-right gang. The group was recently declared a terrorist group in Canada. Their values have been widely described as racist, misogynist, anti-immigrant and hateful against other minority groups.

At least four of the defendants have alleged ties to the Oath Keepers, which the Anti-Defamation League calls an "anti-government right-wing fringe organization." The group is known to target and recruit current and former law enforcement officers and military veterans. At least three of the defendants are allegedly affiliated with the Three Percenters, another anti-government extremist organization.

Military or law enforcement ties

The presence of current and former law enforcement officers, as well as military service members and veterans has especially alarmed government officials. NPR found at least 15% of those charged had possible ties to the military or to law enforcement.

Experts say there's little evidence that current or former members of the military are more susceptible to radicalization, but Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has called combating extremism in the ranks a top priority.

Incitement by Trump

Lawmakers who support impeaching former President Trump argue that he "incited a violent mob to attack the United States Capitol." There is some evidence of that in court documents: Some who allegedly stormed the Capitol explicitly said they were inspired by Trump.

"IF TRUMP TELLS US TO STORM THE F***IN CAPITAL IMA DO THAT THEN!" one defendant allegedly wrote. "I thought I was following my President," said yet another.

A spectrum of charges

Most of the people charged in connection with the storming of the Capitol face allegations primarily related to breaching the building. But a smaller number face more serious charges, and a greater threat of prison time, if convicted.

Eleven allegedly committed conspiracy, one of the most serious charges brought. Twenty-five people allegedly committed acts of violence, particularly against Capitol Police. At least 15 people allegedly caused property damage, such as breaking windows or doors to gain entry to the building. And 11 people face allegations of theft, such as the man who was photographed carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's lectern, or one woman who allegedly took a laptop from Pelosi's office.

Explore the database below.

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Corrected: February 19, 2021 at 11:00 PM CST
In an earlier version of this database, the summary for Vitali GossJankowski was mistakenly entered twice and appeared incorrectly for Cindy Sue Fitchett.