A rioter who was fatally shot Wednesday by U.S. Capitol Police when a violent mob loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol has been identified as a San Diego woman.
Violent protesters loyal to Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday and forced lawmakers into hiding, in a stunning attempt to overturn America’s presidential election, undercut the nation’s democracy and keep Democrat Joe Biden from replacing Trump in the White House.
Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old Ocean Beach resident, was in Washington, D.C., protesting Trump's election defeat, according to her brother-in-law Justin Jackson.
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Jackson said he has been in contact with Washington, D.C., Metro Police Department, but said they didn't tell him exactly what happened and said he doesn't know what would have warranted the shooting.
“Ashli was both loyal as well as extremely passionate about what she believed in. She loved this country and felt honored to have served in our Armed Forces. Please keep her family in your thoughts and respect their privacy during this time,” Jackson told NBC 7.
According to U.S. Capitol Police (USCP), Babbitt was shot by a USCP employee after a swarm of people breached the Capitol Building and made their way toward the House Chamber, where members of Congress were sheltering in place.
The crowd "actively attacked" officers with metal pipes, discharged chemicals and used other weapons against officers, determined to enter the Capitol, USCP Chief Steven A. Sund said. It was not clear if Babbitt was among them.
Babbitt was transported to a hospital where she later died.
John Sullivan, a resident of Salt Lake City and video journalist who is also the self-described operator of a grass-roots civil-rights organization called Insurgence USA, was shooting video nearby when Babbitt was shot.
"I do remembering warning the people that there was a gun and yelling that pretty loud," said the 26-year-old Sullivan. "I witnessed other people be very -- they were very angry because nobody thought she should have got shot. She didn't have a weapon. I mean, she was breaking in but there was no reason for them to shoot her because there were several people breaking in and she just happened to be the person to climb through first. So, it's not like she was making violent threats or had a gun…. I mean, so that being said, I think they, they could have not killed her."
Sullivan, who was inside the Capitol on Wednesday for quite a while, encountered a group of police officers before the shooting.
"When we made our way to that door -- and this is what you don't see in the video because you see from the moment the gun sticks out to when she gets shot -- we go to the door and, like, there's four officers there, and one officer is crying," Sullivan recalled, adding, "He's saying, 'Hey, like, I want to go home to my kids.' He's, like, looking at other officers saying this, and I'm like, 'Wow.' I don't think I've ever seen that out of a police officer."
It wasn't Sullivan's first encounter with officers inside the Capitol.
"I had talked to these other officers prior, and I saw that fear in their eyes," Sullivan said. "It's indescribable, the fear, of hopelessness and despair when there's 10 officers at the end of a corridor and there's thousands of protesters … and there's nothing that they can do other than kill them. They either shoot them or back down."
The USCP employee who discharged his weapon was placed on administrative leave and their police powers were suspended as an investigation into the incident is conducted, Sund said. The chief of D.C. Metropolitan Police Department said the department's Internal Affairs Unit is investigating the shooting.
A tweet apparently sent by Babbitt Tuesday alluded to Wednesday's protest, saying in part, "the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours."
Babbitt was an Air Force veteran who served on multiple tours in the Middle East. Her Twitter feed includes several pro-Trump posts and pictures of her at local pro-Trump rallies.
A woman believed to be Babbitt was seen in a viral video attempting to climb through a shattered window of the Capitol building when shots were fired. Another clip showed the woman covered in blood and being treated by paramedics who moved her on a stretcher away from the building.
According to her Facebook page, Babbitt and her husband, Aaron, own and operate Fowlers Pool Service and Supply.