A Texas man accused of participating in the deadly attack of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 threatened to shoot his children if they exposed him to federal agents, prosecutors said.
Guy Reffitt warned his adult son and teenage daughter they’d be “shot” if they alerted the FBI or posted about his suspected participation in the massive riot on social media, according to an affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com.
Reffitt, who officials said has connections to fringe militia groups, allegedly confessed to his family that he armed himself and “stormed the Capitol” on Jan. 6 as Congress ratified the 2020 presidential election.
Reffitt later told his daughter he had to “erase everything” and wipe his electronic devices because the FBI was “watching him.” He allegedly warned her he’d “put a bullet through” her phone if she recorded him or posted about him on social media. On Jan. 11, he allegedly threatened both his adult son and daughter, warning he’d turn a gun on them if they approached law enforcement regarding his alleged involvement in the attack on the Capitol.
“If you turn me in, you’re a traitor and you know what happens to traitors...traitors get shot,” the Texas father said, according to the affidavit.
When his wife confronted him over his “extreme” statements, Reffitt reportedly defended himself, claiming he threatened his kids to “protect the family.”
“If someone was a traitor then that’s what’s going to happen,” he told his spouse, the affidavit alleges. She dismissed the suspected death threats as flippant outbursts, describing her husband as “super passionate.”
Reffitt’s wife also admitted to FBI agents that her husband is a member of the Three Percenter militia movement. Several of the group’s members, along with other far-right militant organizations such as the Proud Boys, joined the Capitol raid, law enforcement said.
Footage of Reffitt, clad in a blue jacket, a tactical vest and wearing a helmet affixed with a Go-Pro camera, was later broadcasted by a number of news outlets, including Fox News and Reuters. As the mob beat back police officers with pipes and armed insurrectionists patrolled the Capitol hallways, he was filmed using a plastic water bottle to flush his eyes outside the federal building. Authorities suspect he’d been pepper-sprayed.
Reffitt was arrested in Texas on Jan. 18. He confessed to FBI agents he’d been in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 but insisted he hadn’t gone inside the Capitol building. Reffitt was charged with obstruction of justice and knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, according to a complaint obtained by Oxygen.com.
Investigators also located an AR-15 rifle, a Smith & Wesson pistol, and two other firearms at the man’s home.
A spokesperson for the FBI declined to comment on the charges on Monday.
Dozens of President Donald Trump’s supporters, conspiracy theorists, and a “melting pot” of extremists and fringe militia members, including highly-trained military and police veterans, have been identified, charged, and arrested in connection with the deadly insurrection.
Hundreds of arrests are still expected in the coming days and weeks. The FBI has also warned of nationwide armed protests at all 50 state capitols ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
Domestic violence and far-right extremism often go hand-in-hand, some experts said.
“I think it is very common to see domestic violence in families on the radical right,” Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Center for Analysis of the Radical Right, told Oxygen.com.
Potok, a far-right extremism and militia expert, explained that misogyny is “deeply ingrained” within the fabric of such movements.
“Particularly now, the radical right in the United States is very much typified by real misogyny, by hatred of women,” he added. “This is something we see very clearly.”
In explaining this connection, Potok cited white nationalist Richard Spencer. In 2018, Spencer, who organized the deadly “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville, was accused of “physically, emotionally, verbally and financially” abusing his wife, Nina Kroupiianova.
“This is true of mass shooters, it’s true of white supremacists, it’s true of other far-right extremists, including those in Charlottesville and those in the Capitol,” Amy Spitalnick, executive director of Integrity First For America, told Oxygen.com.
Spitalnick’s organization is suing two dozen individuals and groups accused of orchestrating the August 2017 violence in Charlottesville in a sprawling civil conspiracy suit. Spencer is a named defendant in the case, which is slated to go to trial this fall.
“So many of these extremists have histories of domestic violence and so often it’s used as a way to assert the power and the dominance they believe they’re entitled to,” Spitalnick added. “It is very often an early warning sign of broader violence and broader extremism that we’ll see down the road.”
Christopher Cantwell, another Charlottesville instigator and suspected neo-Nazi, was caught in 2019 making rape threats against a rival's wife on a messaging app, court documents obtained by Oxygen.com show. And far-right media mogul and former White House staffer Steve Bannon allegedly strangled his wife in 1996. He was arrested and charged by Santa Monica police but the case was later dismissed.
It’s unclear if Reffitt will face charges related to the alleged death threats against his children. Attorney information wasn’t immediately available for the Texas man.
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