Guy Reffitt’s son testifies against him in January 6 trial

WASHINGTON — When an oil worker named Guy Wesley Reffitt returned to Texas after participating in the attack on the Capitol last year, his welcome wasn’t exactly warm.

He bragged to his family about confronting police outside the building and vowed the violence there was just “the beginning,” according to federal prosecutors. Her 18-year-old son pushed back, accusing her of breaking the law.

Days later, Mr. Reffitt realized his son might be right and the FBI might actually be onto him. In a fit of anger, he threatened his son and daughter, telling them they would face his wrath if they sold him to the authorities.

On Thursday, son Jackson Reffitt faced his father from the witness box in federal district court in Washington, testifying against him in a remarkable tableau that captured the painful rift in a family — and in some ways in the nation – caused by the events of January 6, 2021.

“He said, ‘If you turn me in, you’re a traitor,'” Jackson Reffitt told the jury as his father watched him intently from across the courtroom, then looked down. “‘And traitors get shot.'”

Elder Mr. Reffitt, 41, is the first of more than 700 defendants to stand trial in connection with the Capitol attack, and over the past two days the prosecution has documented how he turned himself in in Washington with a fellow member of a Texas militia and, armed with a pistol, led a pro-Trump crowd in an advance on police outside the building.

But with the appearance of her son on the witness stand, the trial took an unusually personal and emotional turn.

Testifying for more than three hours, Jackson Reffitt, now 19, told the jury how his father became more distant and harsher in his beliefs in 2016, the same year Donald J. Trump was elected president. . Father and son, he said, disagreed on politics.

“I was moderately left-wing and my father was moderately right-wing,” said young Mr. Reffitt, adding that in this election year, “we both went further in our own direction.”

Jackson Reffitt also said his father was a member of the Texas Three Percenters, a state militia closely tied to the gun rights movement. Guy Reffitt waved a flag outside the family home in Wylie, Texas, displaying the Three Percenters logo. His son told the jury that he often went about his business with a .40 caliber pistol on his hip.

Things grew tenser between father and son in December 2020, Jackson Reffitt said, as Mr. Trump embarked on several overlapping plans to reverse his election defeat. Much of the dispute unfolded over a family group chat, several of which were shown to the jury on Thursday.

“Congress made fatal mistakes this time,” wrote Guy Reffitt on December 21 of that year. “It’s not about Trump, it’s much bigger. It’s about OUR country.

Credit…through the Ministry of Justice

The son replied, “I don’t think Congress is making up the 80,000,000 votes for Biden but okkk.”

The father then replied, “It’s not about Trump. Or Biden. What comes next is about tyranny. Hold my beer and I’ll show you.

Reading these and similar messages — some about his father traveling to Washington for Jan. 6 — was “scary and surreal,” Jackson Reffitt said.

He told the jury he was worried about what his father might do. So one day that month, he Googled “FBI” and “tip” and followed the link to a whistleblower line from the Office Online, describing what had happened between him and his father.

He testified that he was ashamed for contacting the FBI “I just felt disgusting,” he explained.

But the FBI didn’t respond for weeks, and on Jan. 6, 2021, Jackson woke up at his girlfriend’s house to find a text on the family group’s chat, indicating his father was in Washington. He told the jury that he rushed home and found his mother and sisters watching the chaos in the Capitol unfold on television.

“I stood there amazed and disappointed, saddened and scared,” he said.

Two days later, as Guy Reffitt returned from Washington, he sent his family a text message that appeared to celebrate the violence he had been involved in.

“Rotated multiple times with clay balls and heavily pepper sprayed,” he wrote. “We took the capital of the United States. We are the People’s Republic.

“Yeah,” his son replied, “you know they’re tracking everyone who was there, right?”

“Yeah, who cares,” his father replied. “I didn’t break any laws.”

Father and son had a similar conversation when Guy Reffitt finally returned to the Wylie family home. Days later, his father made “traitor” threats, Jackson Reffitt said. Jackson met with the FBI that day. Her father was arrested within a week.

Testimony at trial earlier today was not as dramatic and was largely devoted to evidence that investigators had extracted from Mr Reffitt’s electronic devices, including a 30-minute video he made of him -even in the crowd outside the Capitol with a camera mounted on his helmet.

In the video, a rude Mr. Reffitt can be heard repeatedly urging members of the crowd to storm into the building and drag lawmakers, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, by the hair or ankles.

“I didn’t come here to play – I’m taking the Capitol,” he said at one point. “I just want to see Pelosi’s head hit every step on the way out.”

Prosecutors also showed the jury a recording of a Zoom call Mr. Reffitt participated in with other members of the Texas Three Percenters after returning from Washington. The call contained an echo of testimony given Wednesday by a former Capitol Police officer, Shauni Kerkhoff. Ms Kerkhoff told the jury she began to panic after firing dozens of pepper balls at Mr Reffitt, none of which succeeded in stopping his progress down a flight of stairs in the building.

During the Zoom call, Mr. Reffitt recounted the same events, telling his fellow militiamen that he had been hit at least 20 times by Ms. Kerkhoff’s projectiles, but that his body armor had absorbed most of the strokes.

“I said, ‘Baby, you’re gonna need a bigger gun than that,'” he said on the call, adding, “They’re lucky we don’t have them. shoot on it. “

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