This attack was so much worse than it looked on TV. And this was done by the same crowd that claims that Blue Lives Matter to them. It sounds like the only thing that really matters is getting their own way.
The officers at the West Terrace eventually pushed people away from the doors. It was only then that Fanone saw the immense, volatile crowd stretched out in front of him and realized what police were up against.
“We weren’t battling 50 or 60 rioters in this tunnel,” he said in the first public account from D.C. police officers who fought to protect the Capitol during last week’s siege. “We were battling 15,000 people. It looked like a medieval battle scene.”
Someone in the crowd grabbed Fanone’s helmet, pulled him to the ground and dragged him on his stomach down a set of steps. At around the same time, police said, the crowd pulled a second officer down the stairs. Police said that chaotic and violent scene was captured in a video that would later spread widely on the Internet.
Rioters swarmed, battering the officers with metal pipes peeled from scaffolding and a pole with an American flag attached, police said. Both were struck with stun guns. Fanone suffered a mild heart attack and drifted in and out of consciousness.
All the while, the mob was chanting “U.S.A.” over and over and over again.
“We got one! We got one!” Fanone said he heard rioters shout. “Kill him with his own gun!”
Looking over the chaotic scene in front of him from the Capitol steps, Glover grew concerned as the battle raged. There were people caught up in the moment, he said, doing things they would not ordinarily do. But many appeared to be on a mission, and they launched what he and the police chief described as a coordinated assault.
“Everything they did was in a military fashion,” Glover said, saying he witnessed rioters apparently using hand signs and waving flags to signal positions, and using what he described as “military formations.” They took high positions and talked over wireless communications.
Authorities would later learn that some former members of the military and off-duty police officers from across the country were in the pro-Trump crowd. Glover called it disturbing that off-duty police “would knowingly and intentionally come to the United States Capitol and engage in this riotous and criminal behavior against their brothers and sisters in uniform, who are upholding their oaths of office.”
D.C. officer Daniel Hodges, assigned to a civil-disturbance unit, entered the Capitol grounds with the riot well underway. He was quickly separated from colleagues, and someone in the mob grabbed his radio.
The 32-year-old waded through the hostile crowd, only to be knocked down. Someone tried to gouge his eyes and others piled on top of him before a fellow officer wrested him free. He reached the Capitol and got inside. With no assignment and no way to find his supervisor, he went “looking for work.”
He found it at the West Terrace doors.
He had a gas mask and put it on, then worked his way to the front of the police line. He tried to hold the rioters back “as best I could,” he said.
Shortly after 3 p.m., Hodges got caught between the interior glass doors, sandwiched by rioters pushing forward and by police behind him pushing the other way. His arms were trapped, then his head, on the rioter’s side.
“I really couldn’t defend myself at that point,” he said.
A rioter grabbed his gas mask from the bottom and shoved upward, tearing it off his helmet. Another took his baton “and started beating me in the head with it.” He took face-fulls of bear spray with no way to shield himself, and a video captured his agonizing groans and twisted face as the assault continued before he was finally freed and pulled back.
“The zealotry of these people is absolutely unreal,” said Hodges, who suffered from a severe headache but otherwise emerged unhurt. “There were points where I thought it was possible I could either die or become seriously disfigured.”
Still, Hodges said, he did not want to turn to his gun.
“I didn’t want to be the guy who starts shooting, because I knew they had guns — we had been seizing guns all day,” he said. “And the only reason I could think of that they weren’t shooting us was they were waiting for us to shoot first. And if it became a firefight between a couple hundred officers and a couple thousand demonstrators, we would have lost.”