WASHINGTON — Thousands of people have contacted law enforcement with tips since the insurrection at the Capitol, including a Virginia woman who suspected she might have spotted rioters planning to invade Washington by boat. The Coast Guard says it's ready for that possibility, but has no intel suggesting it will really happen.
The woman, a process server who is not easily scared, said she spotted pick-up trucks loaded with what she called "heavy-duty" kayaks, and guys in fatigues with bald heads and scraggly beards headed north on Sunday. She notified DC police, the F.B.I and police in Culpeper. She said they took reports, but she's unsure if they followed up.
"How many people are out here kayaking in January, coming from out of state, from the South where it's warm to the North where it's colder? It just alarmed me," she said.
The Coast Guard insists it's ready for anything -- from an invasion by paddling insurrectionists, to a chemical, biological, or radiological attack.
Petty officers showed off a trio of robots designed to access even the most hazardous spaces without endangering humans.
Dozens of small boats and a large cutter are cruising the Potomac River and the Anacostia River, with 240-caliber fully automatic rifles mounted to their bows, and heavily armed Coast Guardsmen aboard.
Capt. Joseph Loring, incident commander for the National Special Security Event, declined for operational security reasons to detail exactly how many members are deployed, he'll only say it's in the hundreds.
"Obviously the events of Jan. 6 certainly heightened our concern level," he said.
Both the Potomac and the Anacostia from the Souza to the Wilson and Key Bridges are closed to all but Coast Guard, police and fire traffic.
"Yes sir, we feel prepared for any threat," Lt. Kyle Walker said.
The rivers are closed for now to commercial and recreational traffic through Jan. 25, but a spokesman said that could end early if nothing happens.