A Marine veteran is being sent to prison for more than five years for spraying a chemical irritant at police outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Daniel Ray Caldwell, 51, of The Colony, Texas, was sentenced Wednesday to 68 months in prison, according to a Thursday news release from the District of Columbia’s U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Caldwell pleaded guilty in September 2022 to assaulting law enforcement officers with a dangerous weapon.
Video of the attack shows Caldwell — wearing an olive-drab hoodie, camouflage gear and a sticker saying “Guns SAVE Lives” — spraying an orange substance at a row of police officers, according to court documents filed by the prosecution.
The spray contained “a chemical irritant” that “was capable of causing serious bodily injury,” according to a court document that Caldwell signed onto as part of his plea agreement. In another court document, prosecutors identified it as bear spray, a potent kind of pepper spray.
Caldwell’s attack injured at least four officers, though not permanently, prosecutors wrote in that document.
He bragged later that day, “I got like 15 of them,” according to court documents.
Caldwell tearfully apologized in court Wednesday for his actions, Politico reported, saying, “I clearly let my emotions take control. Being a Marine, I should have known better. … I wish I could take it back, but I can’t.”
U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered Caldwell to spend three years on supervised release and pay $2,000 in restitution, on top of serving his prison term, according to the news release. Caldwell already has served nearly two years of his sentence, according to his lawyer, Robert Lee Jenkins Jr.
“Although we understand the rationale behind imposing a sentence of imprisonment, we remain disappointed at the length of the sentence imposed,” Jenkins wrote in an emailed statement to Marine Corps Times. “In light of other sentences imposed for similar conduct we believe the sentence was unjust. It further failed to properly acknowledge mitigating factors such as Mr. Caldwell’s decorated service to this country as a U.S. Marine.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia declined to comment.
Caldwell enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1990, serving as an aircraft avionics technician, and left as a corporal in 1995, according to his official record provided to Marine Corps Times by Marine spokeswoman Yvonne Carlock.
Caldwell had faced a maximum of 20 years in prison, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release from September 2022 about his guilty plea. Prosecutors had requested a sentence of five years and 10 months’ imprisonment, just two months more than Caldwell’s eventual sentence.
The longest prison term anyone has received for participation in the riot at the Capitol was 10 years, a sentence handed to retired New York City police officer and Marine veteran Thomas Webster in September 2022 for attacking police with a flagpole.
By the second anniversary of the attack, in January, 192 people had been sentenced to prison for involvement in the Capitol attack, with an average sentence of 16 months, according to USA Today. Five people, including Webster, have gotten sentences longer than seven years, USA Today reported.
Caldwell was arrested on Feb. 10, 2021, and indicted in March of that year.
In the two years since the incident, more than 950 people have been arrested for alleged crimes connected to the attack, including more than 284 who face charges of assaulting or impeding police, according to Thursday’s news release.
Some of the most high-profile cases have involved defendants who previously served in the military.
Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.