Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she feared for her life during the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, while Rep. Mikie Sherrill — a former Navy pilot—reported that other members of Congress were leading people on “reconnaissance” tours in the Capitol building the day before the January 6th riots.
The details of violent threats against lawmakers have emerged as Congressional lawmakers spoke about their experience when a mob of President Donald Trump's supporters breached the Capitol January 6th. Directly before the violent riots broke out, the president repeated lies about the election being stolen from him, and urged attendees of the Stop the Steal rally to march to the Capitol, where the House and Senate were undertaking certification of the election results naming Joe Biden as the next President.
Five people were left dead after the riots, including a Trump supporter who was shot by a Capitol Police officer while allegedly trying to breach the House chambers; and a Capitol Police officer who was reportedly beaten by a rioter.
During an Instagram Live post Tuesday, Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) spoke of a “close encounter” she had while hiding in an undisclosed location, though she did not release more details because of security concerns. “Wednesday was an extremely traumatizing event. And it was not an exaggeration to say that many members of the House were nearly assassinated,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
"We were very lucky that things happened within certain minutes that allowed members to escape the House floor unharmed," Ocasio-Cortez said. "Many of us merely narrowly escaped death." She added that she thought she "was going to die."
Vice President Mike Pence was another target for the rioters, after Trump tweeted that Pence was disloyal. Many in the crowd chanted “Hang Mike Pence!” as they stormed the Capitol, the Washington Post reported.
Sherrill (D-New Jersey) held a Facebook Live event Tuesday and revealed she saw Congressional representatives with “groups coming through the Capitol” on January 5th doing “a reconnaissance for the next day.” She did not give further details or name the Congressional representatives, but promised to hold them “accountable and if necessary, ensure that they don't serve in Congress.”
While hiding in her office, Democratic Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s staff discovered the office’s secret panic buttons were all ripped out, her chief of staff Sarah Groh told the Boston Globe: “Every panic button in my office had been torn out — the whole unit,” she said.
Law enforcement said they detained a Colorado man who allegedly threatened to shoot House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi on live TV and was found to have 2,500 rounds of ammunition when he arrived in D.C. on January 7th, a day after the riot. Cleveland Meredith Jr. told investigators he got delayed en route to the Capitol because of mechanical issues and texted an acquaintance “just fixed...headed to DC with a shit ton of 5.6 armor piercing ammo,” Buzzfeed reported. Meredith is charged with transmitting a threat in interstate commerce, possession of an unregistered firearm, and unlawful possession of ammunition.
Pelosi was a target of some of the extremists who did make it inside the Capitol during the riot, with some reportedly yelling, "Where's Nancy? Where's Nancy?" as they roamed the halls.
GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who has announced she will bring a gun in her purse into the Capitol, livetweeted Pelosi's evacuation from the House chamber on January 6th that was not otherwise being covered by press.
Ocasio-Cortez said she was worried that sheltering with other members of Congress in the safe room would lead to disclosure of her location to rioters and put her in danger. She did not identify which Congressional members she was worried about.
New metal detectors were installed at the Capitol Tuesday, which seemed to infuriate several Republican members of Congress who either refused to go through, barreled through without stopping, or skirted around the detectors.
Trump on Tuesday told reporters his comments to his supporters were “totally appropriate,” and the possibility of his leaving office is the real cause of the “tremendous anger.”
The House is meeting Wednesday morning to consider an article of impeachment that accuses the president of “inciting an insurrection.”