Ohio town unknowingly hosted alleged Capitol attack plotters

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This photo made on Jan. 25, 2021 shows the Jolly Roger Bar and Grill in Woodstock, Ohio, after the FBI arrested the owner Jessica Watkins for her involvement in the U.S. Capitol breach on Jan. 6. (AP Photo/Farnoush Amiri)

WOODSTOCK, Ohio – In this don't blink-or-you'll-miss-it, one-stoplight town, dozens of residents still fly “Trump 2020” and “Make America Great Again” flags.

But it's a now-shuttered bar that brought the FBI and other investigators to Woodstock, Ohio, around 40 miles (65 kilometers) northwest of the state capital of Columbus, this month. Bedsheets and drapes cover the windows of The Jolly Roger Bar and Grill, except for a sliver where an “OPEN” sign flickers in red, white and blue.

It is here, federal authorities allege, that Army veteran Jessica Watkins tended bar and recruited members for a local militia group she has said in social media posts that she founded in 2019 and affiliated it with the Oath Keepers — an extremist, militaristic group believed to have thousands of members nationally.

In a criminal complaint filed Jan. 19 and a federal indictment Wednesday, Watkins and a member of her militia, ex-Marine Donovan Ray Crowl, are charged, along with a Virginia man, with helping to plan and coordinate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

While many of the initial images from the Capitol assault included colorful characters such as the horns-wearing self-proclaimed “QAnon Shaman,'' other, more disturbing images emerged, showing military-like formations of rioters dressed in olive drab, wearing helmets, goggles and items ready for an assault.

“We have a good group,” federal authorities say Watkins transmitted that day. “We have about 30-40 of us. We are sticking together and sticking to the plan.”

A couple blocks from the Jolly Roger, congregants at the Free Will Baptist Church have been trying to wrap their heads around it, said Keith Pack, a church deacon.

“Just shocked that it would be in the small town of Woodstock,” said Pack, who lives near the town of fewer than 300 people.