The personnel were armed on the night of Jan. 12 in response to a request from federal authorities, the D.C. National Guard said in a statement. The arming was greenlit by Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy.
“National Guard members are postured to meet the requirements of the supported civil authorities, up to and including protective equipment and being armed if necessary,” the statement said. “The public’s safety is our top priority.”
Photographs showed hundreds of guardsmen in the Capitol as House members debated impeaching President Donald Trump again. D.C. Guardsmen were activated before Jan. 6 per a request from Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser but weren’t armed. Numerous others, including personnel from Maryland and Virginia, poured into the city after the Capitol was breached.
Five people died from the events on Capitol grounds, including a protester who was shot dead by a U.S. Capitol Police officer. That officer has been placed on leave pending an investigation. Another officer died from injuries suffered while responding to the breach.
Bowser, a Democrat, asked for and received an emergency declaration for the District of Columbia. Trump ordered federal assistance to supplement the city’s response efforts to “the emergency conditions resulting from the 59th Presidential Inauguration.”
Up to 15,000 National Guard troops are authorized to deploy to Washington ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration, Gen. Daniel Hokanson said on Jan. 11.
“To date, our troops have been requested to support security, logistics, liaison, and communication missions,” he said.
Authorities told reporters on Jan. 12 that more than 160 case files have been opened in regards to the breach.
“This is a 24/7, full-bore, extensive operation into what happened that day,” said Steven D’Antuono, an FBI official, noting that agents have received more than 100,000 pieces of digital media from the public.
Bowser told the public during a separate event that they shouldn’t travel to Washington for Biden’s inauguration.
“Our goals right now are to encourage Americans to participate virtually and to protect the District of Columbia from a repeat of the violent insurrection experienced at the Capitol and its grounds on January the 6th,” she said.