Eyewitness Account of Chaos at the Capitol

AP Photo/Julio Cortez

Facts (and non-facts) are flying fast and furious following the events of last Wednesday. Some are verifiable (via video and photos), some are verifiably wrong, and some remain subject to interpretation.

And don’t you worry, every politician, pundit, and partisan is sparing no effort to glom onto and spin whichever facts best suit their narrative (and help solidify their power.)

I’ve already given my initial take on the situation. I have additional thoughts, of course, but I heard a firsthand account from a fellow Missourian who was in attendance — at the rally, and later, near enough to the Capitol to observe a lot of what went down in the early moments of the chaos there. And rather than give you more of my own take on things (which undoubtedly is colored by the many layers through which the information has made its way to me), I thought it would be worthwhile to simply share this man’s story.

“William” joined the Marc Cox Morning Show on 97.1 FM Talk this past Friday. I hope you’ll take a few minutes and listen — it’s pretty compelling to hear it in his own voice. But for those who’d prefer to read it, here is a transcription of his interview (which starts at about the 13:56 mark):

Mike Ferguson (subbing in for Marc Cox): Okay, this is going to be an interesting conversation here — it’s 8:36, by the way, I’m Mike Ferguson. William was there, just like Marc was there, but Marc was about, he said, what? 75 yards back from the Capitol with the crowds; that’s about as close as he got. So, he could see, you know, the tear gas, and he could hear commotion — he heard some flashbangs, he was telling us. William, who joins us now, he was way up front on this. And, Tricia, you talked to William earlier; this will be my first time chatting with him, so you vetted he is who he says he is; he talked to Marc out there, so, William, appreciate the call here. And when I say you were up front, you were like way up front when the protest/scuffles were happening. How close is “up front”? Just define that for us. And did you actually go into the Capitol building?

William: Good morning, guys, can you hear me okay? Okay. First of all, I want to start out by saying no, I did not go inside the Capitol. I would not go inside the Capitol. I am a patriot — we went to Washington D.C. to support our president; we did not go to storm the Capitol. I left Trump’s speech, in the middle of his speech, because my wife got cold. We had been there all day, and she was freezing, and she said, “Sweetheart, you’re going to kill me, but we have to start walking; I’ve gotta get some blood pumping.” And, so, begrudgingly, we left early. And so we got to the Capitol in enough time — God’s timing is perfect — I saw how this entire thing started, and that’s why I’m here, because I want the people to hear what the media’s not telling you.

Mike Ferguson: Okay. Which part of the Capitol were you around? Because we know there was people basically all around the Capitol building.

William: So, if you saw video or pictures of the Capitol building, there was a white, U.S. Government SUV parked maybe near the base of the steps. Initially, I made it to that vehicle, and there was maybe a couple hundred people there.

Mike Ferguson: Okay, and so when you say you want people to know how it started and what happened, what did you see? And how far were you from it?

William: Okay, so this is not conjecture. I will start out by telling you that I was close enough to touch the Capitol wall. I was 5 feet from one of the outside infiltrators that was trying to put a pipebomb inside the water system of the Capitol. Here’s what I will tell you, what I saw and what the people need to know. Yes, Trump supporters went to the Capitol; they went inside the Capitol, but we were infiltrated by an organized operation. And, I’ll tell you why, but yes it included Capitol Police, people were filming it. When I got to — when that guy — we actually tackled that guy that was trying to put a pipe bomb into the pipe and handed him over to the police. 45 minutes later, that same guy was up on the Capitol, helping people climb the wall. So, that’s why I say that — they released him — they were involved.

Mike Ferguson: Wow. And, you say “they,” you’re talking about the Capitol Police?

William: Yeah. They — we — so the guy was trying to put a pipe bomb inside the irrigation system. And he had the tools, and he was taking the cap off of the, you know, the water. And two cops — Capitol Police — yelled at him, and said, “Stop!” So he turns around to run, and he plows into an elderly lady, like a linebacker, which knocks him down. We immediately recognized him. I was there since early in the morning. When you see millions of people walking with Trump gear on, and then you see 30 or 40 together that weren’t — where…they just stood out; we knew; we could tell. And, so we got on him, we stopped him, we tackled him, we held him, until those police officers could catch him. And they took him and everything he had away. And I thought, “Awesome — we just helped the police; we did the right thing.”

30 minutes, 45 minutes later, that same guy was up on top of the Capitol, inciting the riot — the violence, telling people to go in the Capitol, telling people to burn things down, telling people, I mean, it was so obvious, because I’ve seen these same tactics at some of the riots and things that we saw over the summer. There were infiltrators that run ahead, antagonize the police. They had sticks and things that they brought in. They ran ahead, and they would hit the police and then run back, and let the patriots fight. There were people that, yes, emotions were super high. I mean, we, as we were walking to the Capitol, we found out that our vice president wasn’t going to certify, and everybody got excited. And these people, this orchestrated thing, incited people to go forward. Were they still wrong? Yes. Anyone who went inside of that Capitol building made the wrong decision — they followed the wolves right into the den. But a lot more people — the majority of people — saw what was happening and tried to stop it. They were helping the elderly; they were trying to get people out of there; they were keeping the people from breaking the Capitol building; they were holding them down. I personally saw the Capitol Police waving people in; I saw the Capitol Police remove a barrier to help — to literally let people walk past them. This was the most secure — one of the most secure — buildings in our country, on one of the most important days of a Joint Session of Congress, with the vice president in the building, and they literally laid down and let people walk by because they wanted the optics.

Mike Ferguson: Okay, so, William, these are some really big…really big accusations here. So, I mean, I know there’s people that are — of all types of political persuasions who listen to the program. They’re going to say, “Wait a minute — we’ve seen video of the fights; we’ve seen video of the tear gas; we’ve seen video of people smashing windows and doors to get in — we’ve seen all this. That doesn’t match up with what you’re saying….”

William: It absolutely does match — it matches up with what I’m saying. There were good people that did the wrong thing. I’m not saying that there weren’t. I’m not saying that this was a group of Antifa and there were no patriots involved. I’m not saying any of that. There were good people that got caught up in the moment and did the wrong thing. I saw it. I was sad to see it; I would not have gone inside our Capitol; I made the decision not to. I had the opportunity, because I was right up front. But I — we left peacefully, as most Americans did. But just like — it’s not political; it’s our society today. There’s so many people that are asleep, that just follow the person in front of them — they were wanting to take selfies inside the building; they were wanting to be — but there were people in the front that were coaching them; that were inciting them. I filmed most of everything, because I wanted — I did not get a film of the guy that we got down. I — I’m kicking myself — but I filmed almost everything. What we’re seeing on the media of people screaming and fighting — that’s not what — it looked like a parking lot at Target, elderly people, grandmas and grandpas — people were just walking casually, trying to figure out where the next place was to go.

I will tell you this: The entire Capitol building is under construction. And so, it’s surrounded by a green, like, rubberized fencing that — like you see on the side of the highway, that’s orange, in Missouri. The guys — the same guys that I’m talking about — one of them cut that fence, like a giant gate, and opened it before the crowds really got there. Because the majority of people would never have crossed that fence — I would have never crossed that fence, I would have never been on that grass. But there was no barrier when we got there. Marc Cox was on that grass; he wouldn’t climb over a barrier. But we — we didn’t know it was there; they removed the barrier so that people could casually walk up to the Capitol building and, by the time the crowds got there, you know, people were already inside the building. And they just casually walked up to see what was going on.

But the media — I have never seen anything like this in my life — the media — I went straight back to our hotel — we actually hid inside of a giant hollow tree on the — because we heard that there were rubber bullets flying; we saw snipers on buildings. So I found this giant old tree — this, like, 200-year-old tree that my wife and I could actually fit into. And I pushed her down because we couldn’t get out — we were trapped inside the Capitol complex unless we climbed over one of these fences. And we didn’t come there to climb fences; we didn’t come there to create chaos. We were just trying to do the right thing — and protest the obvious fraud and theft of our election.

Mike Ferguson: William, was there a moment, or — a time when the lightbulb goes off and you say, “Oh crap! I’m in the middle of something that’s turning really ugly. This is a big deal.” Was there a specific moment? And what was it that made you look around and go, “Here we go”?

William: Yes. When I realized that I was trapped; when I realized that I was inside of a box. They removed one side of it and I was inside this complex. And I turned around to see a million people — or however many — walking our way wanting to find out what was happening. And you could hear the anger, and excitement, and energy, and anxiety growing in these people, because they’re seeing what’s happening up front. And yes, many people ran to get involved. The same — I listened to one of your callers say, “When are we going to start fighting back?” I heard that. I heard that, and I understand that. But that’s not what this was. These were moms and dads, and aunts and uncles, that were out there protesting, and they didn’t want a part of that. But they wanted to see what was happening. So they pushed forward.

And when I realized there was no way to go back — that we could only go forward — and then, I actually lost my wife, because the crowd got so crazy, she — it was like a movie — she got swept away from me. So I climbed up on top of this pallet of chairs so that I could try to see her. And, of course, everybody in the world had a Trump hat on, and I couldn’t find her. So, I actually started to cry, because I could see and feel the energy. And I knew that it was getting out of hand. And so I climb on top of this pallet, and I almost got knocked off by Alex Jones who, out of nowhere, climbs up there with his bullhorn, and was — and, by the way, I’m not an Alex Jones follower or fan. But — I will tell you this — Alex Jones did the right thing that day. And he told people, “Do not fall into this — do not fall into this trap. Go around to the front of the building where we can peacefully assemble and listen to speakers. This is what they want. Do not fight them.” And people listened to him. He had, in that moment, the opportunity to say “Charge!” and could have rammed that building with 100,000 people if he wanted to, but he tried to stop them. Just like I tried to stop them.

And…and we got out — we got away, and I went back to my hotel room, and I, in complete disbelief, I watched the news. I watched the only news that’s available in D.C., which was, like, the mainstream media. And my mind…was blown. This was…there were no armed insurrectionists; no one had guns. They had sticks and flagpoles and…but the people that infiltrated this? They came with shields; they came with helmets; they came with gas masks. They were — and by the way, those same people? Yeah, they weren’t all, you know, they didn’t all look like Antifa. They were wearing Trump gear. But we all came with Trump gear; we all came with patriotic flags; we all came with America shirts, USA shirts. These people got off their buses and they went straight to the vendors and picked up Trump gear. They were all wearing brand new stuff; they were all wearing, like, the same hat — they had, like, all the vendors had the same stuff. So, they had the same hats and the same scarves, and you could tell what was new.

Mike Ferguson: Well, William, we’ve gotta get to a break here. I really appreciate the firsthand account on this. I’m sure it’s gonna stir a lot of discussion and debate. Honestly, a lot of people are going to believe you and some aren’t, but the only way to get the conversation going is by this type of segment just here. I appreciate you doing that. I’m glad you and your wife got back safe and got back okay.

William: Can I just say one thing? This is not for Trump supporters; this is not for Biden supporters; this is for America: If you can hear me, think about what you’re seeing — and really think about it. Think about…how easily it is for you to be manipulated. And remember that we are all Americans, and we should love each other, and we should follow law and order. That’s what we’re here for. We have to follow the law, or we’re no different than them.

So, again, one person’s observations — and perceptions — from a front-row seat. You may appreciate them. You may disagree with them. You may believe them. You may be skeptical. But that’s this man’s account of what he saw and felt that day. Wherever you land on it, I think we can all agree with his message at the end.

I’ll have another firsthand account to share from a sitting Congressman, who was in the Capitol that day, in my next piece.