Former Marine accused of assaulting Capitol police with chemical spray to remain in custody pending trial
By KEVIN KRAUSE | The Dallas Morning News | Published: March 5, 2021
DALLAS (Tribune News Service) — Daniel Ray Caldwell, a former Marine who worked in the semi-conductor industry for Texas Instruments, talked about storming the U.S. Capitol during the riot and was seen on video spraying a chemical irritant at a group of officers at a barricade, according to the FBI.
Prosecutors wanted him to remain behind bars until his trial in Washington D.C. On Friday, a federal judge in Plano agreed and ordered him to remain behind bars after hearing testimony this week and last week during a detention hearing.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Kimberly Priest Johnson said in her ruling that no conditions of release would “reasonably assure the safety” of the community.
Caldwell, 49, who lives in The Colony, was arrested on Feb. 10 by FBI agents at Texas Instruments, his place of employment in Richardson, and was subsequently fired, authorities said.
His indictment, unsealed on Wednesday in Washington D.C., charges him with seven counts: civil disorder; assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon; entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon; disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon: engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon; disorderly conduct in a Capitol building; and act of physical violence in the Capitol grounds or buildings.
Several of those are felonies. Caldwell is at least the 13th North Texan known to be charged in connection with the Jan. 6 riot.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracey Batson told the judge during the Feb. 22 detention hearing that Caldwell’s actions “indicate a lack of respect toward law enforcement” and that “his own words put him inside the Capitol.”
Federal authorities investigating the death of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick are looking into the possibility that he could have had some reaction to a chemical irritant that was sprayed at him and other officers by rioters, according to media reports.
But investigators have not currently linked Sicknick’s death to any such spray, although they have determined that he didn’t die from blunt force trauma, the published reports said.
Video of the violent uprising at the Capitol shows several people in the mob using bear spray, mace and other irritants against police officers who were defending the building.
Seth Webb, an FBI agent, testified that a YouTube video shows Caldwell spraying an “orange mist” at about 15 Capitol police officers after which bystanders began coughing. A second video showed Caldwell about two hours later, admitting to pepper spraying officers and describing events by saying “after we started storming,” Webb said.
Caldwell enjoyed taking part in Airsoft military simulation games, a competitive team shooting sport using air guns to fire plastic projectiles, according to an FBI complaint. However, Caldwell brought a real gun to the course multiple times, according to testimony.
Webb said that an employee of a Sanger military simulation game facility said Caldwell had to be told to leave his real gun in his vehicle.
Webb said the employee, who knew Caldwell for about three years, said Caldwell was a white supremacist and a “complete whacko.”
The employee said he would sometimes invite a Black teenager to events and that Caldwell once asked him “why he always brings [expletive]” Black people, but used the “N-word,” the agent said during his testimony.
On cross examination, Webb said the employee did not know Caldwell’s name. Webb said the witness knew Caldwell by his “code name” or “call sign” that players use.
Caldwell’s ex-wife, Kambria Ann Caldwell, said during her testimony that he is not a white supremacist and that he was friends with Black and Latino co-workers. She said her ex-husband doesn’t use alcohol or drugs and that he receives VA disability services from a traumatic brain injury he sustained in the early 1990s.
She said that when Caldwell returned from Washington following the siege he “mentioned that it got out of hand” but never said he breached the Capitol. And she said her ex-husband’s 13 rifles and four handguns are no longer in their house.
Caldwell drove to Washington for the Donald Trump rally and stayed the night of Jan. 5 at a Virginia hotel, according to testimony at the detention hearing. Webb said he believes Caldwell is dangerous because he brought a “propellant” to a protest and used it on police officers.
Caldwell’s attorney, John Hunter Smith, noted that his client was not seen inside the Capitol building in any video or still images. Webb said Capitol police have yet to run a facial recognition check using Caldwell’s photo.
And Smith said there is no corroborating evidence to indicate Caldwell is a white supremacist.
Smith said Caldwell served in the Marines for five and a half years and was honorably discharged. His Linkedin account says he is an equipment engineering technician who studied electronics in the Marines.
Caldwell has worked in the semiconductor industry for over 25 years and has lived with his ex-wife and son in The Colony since 2016, Smith said. The couple divorced years ago but have tried to reconcile, he said. Caldwell has never been convicted of a felony, according to Smith.
His criminal history includes DWI arrests and a 2008 domestic violence arrest following a fight he had with Kambria Caldwell, according to testimony. She suffered injuries during the incident and filed for divorce the next day, also requesting a protective order, according to testimony.
Caldwell pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in connection with the incident, his attorney said.
Prosecutors also noted that Caldwell resisted officers during a 2013 drunken driving arrest. He was physically aggressive at the hospital, where his blood was drawn, and also at the jail, forcing officers to shoot him with a Taser, according to the government.