An Alabama man who parked a pickup truck filled with weapons and Molotov cocktail components near the US Capitol on the day of last year’s insurrection was sentenced on Friday to nearly four years in prison.
US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said she still hasn’t heard an explanation for why Lonnie Leroy Coffman had “almost a small armoury in his truck, ready to do battle".
She sentenced Coffman to three years and 10 months in prison, giving him credit for the more than one year already served since his arrest.
Coffman of Falkville, Alabama, said he never intended to hurt anybody or destroy any property. He said he drove to Washington alone “to try to discover just how true and secure was the [2020 presidential] election”.
“If I had any idea that things would turn out like they did, I would have stayed home,” he wrote in a handwritten letter to the judge.
More than 770 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riot, when supporters of former president Donald Trump stormed the building in an effort to disrupt lawmakers’ formal certification of his reelection defeat. Five people died and scores of Capitol Police officers were seriously injured.
Over 240 participants in the attack have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanours punishable by a maximum of six months imprisonment. More than 130 have been sentenced.
Coffman is one of nine defendants whose prison sentence exceeds one year.
Coffman, a Vietnam War veteran who served in the US Army, pleaded guilty in November to possession of an unregistered firearm and carrying a pistol without a licence.
He was carrying a loaded handgun and revolver without a licence as he walked in Washington on January 6, 2021, according to prosecutors. He isn’t accused of entering the Capitol or joining the mob during the riot that day
When Coffman parked his truck a few blocks from the Capitol on the morning of January 6, it contained a handgun, a rifle, a shotgun, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, a crossbow, machetes, a stun gun and a cooler containing eleven mason jars with holes punched in the lids, according to prosecutors.
Each jar contained a mixture of gasoline and Styrofoam, which are components of the homemade incendiary devices called Molotov cocktails, prosecutors said.
Law enforcement officers found the cache when they searched Coffman’s truck. They had been sweeping the area after pipe bombs were found near the headquarters of the Republican National Committee and Democratic National Committee.
Later, investigators also found Molotov cocktail components at Coffman’s home in Alabama.
Handwritten notes found inside the vehicle included a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln that said, “We The People Are The Rightful Masters Of Both The Congress And The Courts, Not To Overthrow The Constitution But To Overthrow The Men Who Pervert The Constitution."
Coffman, a retired machine operator, had travelled to Washington in December 2020 and tried to drive to the home of a US senator who isn’t named in a court filing by prosecutors. He also called the senator’s office in an effort to “help with the election fraud he saw”.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.