A federal judge on Monday handed down the longest prison sentence so far in connection with the Jan. 6 attacks on the US Capitol to a Texas militia member.
Guy Wesley Reffitt, 49, of Wylie, Texas was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison for his role in the deadly riots, in which five people died and hundreds more were injured in a clash with law enforcement.
“Guy Reffitt came to the Capitol on Jan. 6 armed and determined to instigate violence,” said Matthew Graves, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. “In his own words, his goal was to take the Capitol ‘before the day is over.’”
Reffitt was the first to stand trial among the hundreds of defendants charged in the Jan. 6, 2021 breach of the Capitol.
Back on March 8, a jury found him guilty of five charges, including two counts of civil disorder and one count each of obstruction of an official proceeding, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a firearm, and obstruction of justice.
“He and others contributed to the many assaults on law enforcement officers that day, putting countless more people – including legislators — at risk,” said Graves.” The “jury’s verdict and today’s sentence hold him accountable for his violent, unconscionable conduct.”
According to prosecutors, Reffitt was a member of the militia group the Texas Three Percenters who sent recruiting messages to others in the group to join him at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, including “we will strike the match in D.C. on the 6th.”
Officials say Reffitt embarked on the journey with another militia member armed with handguns and AR-style rifles and wearing body armor the day of the riots.
His mission, according to prosecutors, was to stop Congress from certifying the votes to recognize Joe Biden’s victory in the country’s presidential election, adding that Reffitt specifically targeted Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“We’re taking the Capitol before the day is over,” Reffitt said in a recording by his helmet camera as he urged other rioters to move forward into the building.
“I said I wasn’t leaving till I got in there. I didn’t make it in there. But I started the fire.”
Just days after the riots, Reffitt boasted about his participation in messages sent to other militia members.
“We took the Capital of the United States of America and we will do it again,” he said on Jan. 9.
Then, just one day later, he sent another message urging them to “start purge of all previous conversations. NOW.”
Reffitt was arrested on Jan. 16 and detained by the FBI, who found the AR-15 style rifle and .40-caliber pistol he brought to the Capitol.
“Today’s sentence reflects the seriousness of the crimes committed by Mr. Reffitt and underscores the wanton disregard he had for one of the pillars of our democracy—the peaceful transition of power,” said Steven M. D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
After completing his prison term, Reffitt will be placed on three years’ supervised release and must pay $2,000 in restitution.
To date, more than 850 people have been arrested across the US for their roles in the Capitol riots, including more than 260 individuals who were charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement officers.
“The FBI and our law enforcement partners continue to be steadfast in our commitment to ensure that all individuals who committed crimes on Jan. 6 are held to account for their actions,” said D’Antuono.
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