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San Diego lawmakers reflect on US Capitol insurrection one year later

Capitol Breach Records
Posted at 5:50 PM, Jan 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-06 11:59:42-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Across the country, many watched in horror on Jan. 6, 2021, as live videos showed rioters storming the U.S. Capitol. The fear was real for lawmakers inside, watching it all unfold in person.

“I was fearful that some of my colleagues were going to be killed,” said Rep. Juan Vargas D-CA 51st District. “This group was an angry, violent mob; they attacked the police, they attacked the Capitol.”

ABC 10News spoke with Congressman Vargas on the day of the insurrection as he sheltered in place with staffers at the Capitol. At that time, he described the chaotic scene and said he was angry, ready to fight if he needed to. We caught up with him on Wednesday, nearly a year after the attack.

“I’m still angry about what happened, and I’m still angry about what people are saying about it," he said. "It was a very violent mob."

Vargas said he never imagined that voting to certify the presidential election would become what it did, and he said he didn’t expect some of his colleagues to downplay what happened later on.

“It wasn’t a friendly tourist group of people marching through; they were people that were angry, they were armed with different things, they wanted to stop us from doing our job, which was to certify the vote," Vargas said. "I had done this before; I certified the vote for Donald Trump. It took us 20 minutes, we certified the vote, and he became president, and that’s what this should have been. When people said there was a peaceful transfer of power, no, there wasn’t.”

Congressman Scott Peters, D-CA 52nd District, was in the House gallery that day with other members of Congress; they couldn’t go on the floor because of the pandemic.

"I was watching the proceedings and saw it unfold. Leadership being escorted off from both parties, an announcement that the Capitol had been breached, a direction that we grab our gas masks because they thought they might deploy tear gas and at one point, we were told to hit the ground, and we heard gunshots," he said. "It was a very unsettling day."

Several people died after and during the riots, including San Diego woman Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by an officer that was later cleared, as she tried to climb through a broken window of a door.

A year later, these lawmakers would like to see the country heal from that day but never forget and for everyone to stand up for democracy.

“Congratulations to Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for stepping up; there should be more; this is not a partisan issue, this is a threat to our democracy as Americans, not to republicans or democrats. We should be in this together,” said Peters.

ABC 10News reached out to Congressman Darrell Issa, R-CA 50th District, who issued a statement on Thursday calling Jan. 6, 2021, a "difficult day" without mentioning the Capitol riots, and largely focusing on other national topics including immigration, the economy, COVID-19, and the US exit from Afghanistan.