According to federal prosecutors, Donovan Crowl belongs to an extremist anti-government group that helped foment the fatal U.S. Capitol riots this year.
Prosecutors say Crowl was among those who entered the building Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C. Videos and photographs revealed he was in the Capitol rotunda and elsewhere, clad in military attire, according to reports.
Crowl graduated from Bushnell-Prairie City High School in 1988, according to school records. After graduation, he joined the U.S. Marine Corps.
As of Tuesday, Crowl was being held without bond in the Montgomery County Jail in Dayton, Ohio. Crowl, 50, was booked there Jan. 18.
He resides in Woodstock, Ohio, a village of about 300 residents located 55 miles northeast of Dayton.
According to the Dayton Daily News, Crowl was charged with conspiracy, destruction of government property, obstruction of an official proceeding and violent entry or disorderly conduct, among other crimes.
Prosecutors said Crowl is a member of the Oath Keepers. The paramilitary group was in Washington to protest certification of Joe Biden’s election as U.S. president.
In an interview with The New Yorker before his arrest, Crowl admitted his Oath Keepers membership. He said he entered the Capitol to provide security and his intentions were peaceful.
Oath Keepers supported former President Donald Trump, who held a rally Jan. 6 in Washington to protest the election results. The ensuing riot at the Capitol resulted in the deaths of five people.
Crowl’s defense attorney, Dayton-based Jim Fleisher, said in court his client was a law-abiding citizen who helped rescue people during the riot, the Daily News reported.
Fleisher did not return a message the Journal Star emailed him Monday morning.
A listed telephone number for Crowl’s mother, Teresa Joann Rowe, was out of order. The Journal Star sent an email Monday to an address listed as hers.
Someone who knew Crowl when he was a youth in northeast McDonough County can’t believe what became of him.
“I am genuinely surprised,” Bart Arthur said last week. “Everybody has their beliefs … but that’s disappointing to me.”
Arthur was a longtime teacher, coach and administrator at the high school located in Bushnell.
“I just remember he was a really nice guy,” Arthur said about Crowl. “I really liked Donovan.”
None of what’s been reported in national media about Crowl and his recent actions seems to square with what Arthur remembered. He said he didn’t know about Crowl’s travails until a Journal Star reporter informed him.
Others had only vague recollections of Crowl’s years in Bushnell, which has about 3,000 residents and is located 60 miles west of Peoria.
An employee of the Bushnell VFW post said some people he’s encountered remembered the names of Crowl’s parents, but not much more. Crowl’s years at B-PC predated school Superintendent Kathy Dinger’s arrival by a couple of decades.
But Arthur’s family long has been a part of the Bushnell-area landscape.
Arthur’s wife, Cindy, and father, Jerry, were veteran B-PC educators and coaches. Bart Arthur now works in the Regional Office of Education based in Galesburg and Monmouth.
The 1988 B-PC yearbook listed Crowl as participating in football and track and field, as well as Future Farmers of America. Arthur was the B-PC varsity football coach at the time.
“He was not a big kid, but he was very tough,” Arthur said about Crowl, a 5-foot-11 linebacker. “He was undersized, but he played bigger than he was. He probably weighed only 130 pounds.”
Crowl was undecided about his future once he graduated from high school, Arthur said. As an active Marine, Crowl served in the Persian Gulf as a helicopter mechanic aboard an amphibious assault ship, according to The New Yorker.
At some point while he was in the military, Crowl returned to Bushnell and paid Arthur a visit.
“He seemed like he’d grown up,” Arthur said. “He seemed very mature, proud to serve his country at that time.”
That was a long time ago, Arthur acknowledged.
In the ensuing years, Crowl left the military, held a number of jobs and was arrested for drunken driving, The New Yorker reported. It also reported Crowl expressed disdain for former President Barack Obama, according to family members and friends.
Rowe said she didn’t realize Crowl was at the Capitol until she saw photographs of him, The New Yorker reported. The two are estranged, according to that publication.
“I would have called the Ohio state police if I had known he was going to that place,” said Rowe, a retired nurse. “I’m sitting here sick to my stomach.”
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