A Texas man was recently convicted of storming the U.S. Capitol while possessing a holstered handgun, threatening his two teenage children if they reported him to law enforcement, and interfering with police after the Capitol protest in January 2021.
The case is a landmark because Refitt was convicted on all counts in the first case to actually go to trial. Prior to this, others accused of participating in the Capitol riots took plea deals.
Since the protest, more than 750 individuals have been charged with federal crimes. Over 220 people have pled guilty, primarily to misdemeanors. More than 110 persons have been sentenced, with approximately 90 others awaiting trial dates.
The federal jury in Washington, D.C. returned its guilty verdict after deliberating for only three hours. Guy Wesley Reffitt was found guilty of five counts:
- Being unlawfully present on Capitol grounds while in possession of a firearm
- Obstruction of an official proceeding
- Interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder
- Interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disturbance
- Obstruction of justice
In Texas, Reffitt, 49, didn’t visibly react to the verdict. He did not testify at his trial. Reffitt’s conviction comes after the Capitol protests of Jan. 6, 2021, when over a thousand people stormed the grounds of the United States Capitol, with some storming the building. Reffitt’s trial was the first amongst hundreds of cases stemming from Capitol incursion.
Immediately after the conviction, the U.S. Department of Justice published a press release describing how Reffitt “was specifically targeting Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.”
According to the DOJ, “At one point, Reffitt’s camera recorded him saying, ‘We’re taking the Capitol before the day is over.’ By approximately 1:50 p.m., Reffitt was at the front of a pack that charged U.S. Capitol Police officers at the terrace on the west side of the Capitol building. He climbed on the west side of the Capitol building. He climbed a fence, led the mob up staircases outside the Capitol building, and kept advancing on the officers holding the police line, even as he was struck repeatedly by the officers’ less than lethal projectiles and O.C. spray.”
During the closing arguments of the trial, Risa Berkower, Assistant U.S. Attorney, told jurors that Reffitt drove to Washington, D.C., with the intent of stopping Congress from certifying the electoral victory of President Joe Biden.
According to Berkower, Reffitt proudly “lit the fire” that allowed others in the mob to overwhelm the Capitol police officers stationed near the Senate doors.
Defense attorney William Welch emphasized that Reffitt was not accused of entering the Capitol building. Welch explained that there is no evidence he used force, damaged property, or physically harmed anyone.
Welch urged jurors to acquit Reffitt of all charges but the misdemeanor charge he entered and remained in a restricted area. Jurors were shown videos that captured the confrontation between the mob of people and some Capitol police officers, including Reffitt, who had approached them on the west side of the Capitol.
In the video, he was armed with a Smith & Wesson pistol in a holster on his waist, wearing body armor and a helmet equipped with a video camera, when he approached police, according to the prosecution.
Reffitt retreated after being pepper-sprayed in the face while waving on other protesters who breached the building.
According to the Depart of Justice, Reffitt used a megaphone to shout at the mob to push forward and overtake the officers while yelling at the police to step aside.
Reffitt’s 19-year-old son, Jackson, testified that his father had threatened him and his sister, who was then 16, after he drove back from Washington, D.C.
According to Jackson Reffitt, Guy Reffitt told the children that he would be traitors if they reported him to the authorities and that they would be considered traitors.
He also allegedly told them, “traitors get shot.”
Jackson Reffitt, who was 18 at the time, said his father’s threat terrified him. His younger sister, Peyton, was also listed as a possible government witness but was not called to testify. The elder Reffitt was arrested less than a week after the riot.
Another key witness for the prosecution, Rocky Hardie, said that he and Reffitt were members of the “Texas Three Percenters” militia group.
Hardie said he drove from Texas to Washington with Reffitt. Hardie testified that he and Reffitt were armed with holstered handguns when they attended then-President Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally before the protestors surged to the Capitol.
Hardie said that Reffitt also had an AR-15 in Washington but left it locked in the car.
According to Hardie, Reffitt talked about dragging lawmakers out of the Capitol and replacing them with individuals who would “follow the Constitution,” on the way to Washington, D.C. Hardie also said Reffitt gave him two pairs of zip-ties to use as handcuffs in case they were needed to detain anyone.