US Capitol riots: Militia member Guy Reffitt sentenced to 7 years in prison for role on January 6

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Reffitt, left, with his lawyer. He was a member of the Texas Three Percenters - AP
Reffitt, left, with his lawyer. He was a member of the Texas Three Percenters - AP

A Texas militia member who brought a gun to the US Capitol in the January 6 riot has been jailed for more than seven years.

Guy Reffitt, 49, who was the first Jan 6 defendant to go before a jury, has received the harshest punishment yet of those who tried to storm the Capitol in an attempt to overturn Donald Trump’s election defeat.

He was one of more than 850 people who have been charged in connection with the riot which saw members of Congress cower for safety and Mike Pence whisked away by Secret Service agents as the mob came within 40 feet of the vice president.

Reffitt was convicted on five felony counts: including interfering with police during civil disorder, obstructing the tallying of the electoral votes and threatening his children if they reported him to authorities.

However, US District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich, who was appointed by Donald Trump, turned down a plea from prosecutors to treat the offences as terrorism, which would have substantially increased Reffitt’s sentence.

Assistant US Attorney Jeffrey Nestler, told the court Reffitt was in a class by himself.

“He was planning to overtake our government. He wasn’t just trying to stop the certification. “He wasn’t done. Jan. 6 was just a preface.”

Supporters of Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in a bid to overthrow stop the certification of the election result - GETTY IMAGES
Supporters of Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in a bid to overthrow stop the certification of the election result - GETTY IMAGES

According to a bipartisan Senate report at least seven people – including participants and members of law enforcement – died as a result of the riot.

Reffitt, of Qylie, Texas, was a recruiter for a right-wing militia known as the Three Percenters.

He was convicted by a jury in Washington DC in March.

The court had been shown footage of Reffitt climbing a stone bannister by scaffolding which had been erected for Joe Biden’s inauguration.

In other footage Reffitt was seen confronting Capitol police officers and gesturing to the crowd behind him, urging them towards the entrances to the building.

The jury was also shown footage Reffitt had taken himself from a 360-degree camera mounted on his helmet.

“We're taking the Capitol before the day is out," Reffitt says in the video. "Everybody is in the same harmony on that ... dragging 'em out kicking and f---ing screaming.”

In another clip, he is heard saying: “I just want to see Pelosi’s head hit every f--king stair on the way out. And Mitch McConnell too.”

Reffitt’s son, Jackson, who reported him to the FBI and was among those who gave evidence, told the court that his father had “lost himself” over the previous five years.

He was not in court to hear the sentence, although his two sisters and mother were present.

Peyton, Reffitt’s younger daughter, wept as she told the judge: “My father’s name wasn’t on all the flags that were there that day, that everyone was carrying that day. He is not the leader.”

Speaking after sentencing, she added: “Trump deserves life in prison, if my father’s in prison for that long.”

In mitigation, Reffitt’s lawyer, Clinton Broden, said the crowd would have stormed the building anyway.

Handing down an 87-month sentence, Judge Friedrich said: “Mr Reffitt’s reluctance to admit early that his behaviour is illegal is concerning.”

He added: The officers at the Capitol are the patriots, as well as those who fought and even died to protect our democracy, our rule of law … those in the mob are not.

“Not only are they not patriots, they’re a direct threat to our democracy and will be punished as such.”