As we sat in the Senate chamber listening to our colleagues, the Senate staff started to get up and move very quickly across the chamber. Vice President Mike Pence was abruptly removed from the presiding chair by his security detail, and Senator Chuck Grassley was shuttled across the floor into that seat. Moments later, a Capitol Police representative informed us the Capitol had been breached and that we were sheltering in place... The Capitol Police led us out the chamber’s back doors, through the corridors, down the stairs, into the tunnels under the Capitol to a secure location in a nearby office building. As we descended the stairs, I held Senator Mazie Hirono’s hand. In the secure room, I called home and reassured my husband that I was OK. He was angry, worried and had a lot of questions about how this could happen. The room was filled with the sounds of my colleagues having the same conversations with their families. Meanwhile, the rioters raced through the Capitol, ransacking offices and desecrating public spaces. Their chants of ‘stop the steal’ echoed in the halls."
I’ll never forget hearing this announcement coming across the radios of these officers as they are racing towards the House chambers, ‘shots fired on the House floor.’ When I first heard that I thought, I couldn’t have possibly heard that right. That’s not possible. But obviously, that’s exactly what had happened. And then as we approached the building complex at the end of the tunnels as we were leaving the chamber, I passed one of the wounded officers — he had been wounded in the eye, a bloody eye patch over it. And that’s when two things became very focused for me. Number one, this was actually happening. Number two, the people who were protecting — not us as members of Congress but protecting our institution — are true heroes."
I fully support the right to peacefully protest, but violence is absolutely unacceptable. Our Capitol is the stronghold of our democracy, and should not be torn down. We must respect our police and the rule of law. A big thank you to all the brave men and women of our law enforcement and national guard who are putting their own safety on the line to restore law and order, protect members of Congress, and defend the House of our national democracy.”
What happened was something I’d never seen before where the Capitol Police barred the doors of the House floor with desks and used their guns to stop them from coming in. Those who were on the floor were taken away immediately to a safe place, others of us who were in different offices were told to go to safe locations within the Capitol complex and to remain there and not come out."
The idea that the Capitol Police would lose control over these entry points, these are entry points that are sometimes guarded with machine guns. They take that very seriously. A decision was made to allow the breach rather than use weapons. I hope that decision turns out to be right. I think it will be.”
I thought as an emergency physician and the training that I have, and I started telling members out loud, ‘If somebody comes in and starts shooting: one, you hide; two, you run (if you feel safe); and three, if all else fails, we have to ambush the gunner.’ We needed to think through two to three steps ahead so that we make rapid, quick decisions that would save people’s lives.”
I was actually supposed to be on the house floor at 2 p.m. but I was running late so I was in an adjacent building and I was about to head to the floor when I was told to stop because they were evacuating… We were told to shelter in place… When I would hear somebody coming down the hallway, I didn’t know whether it was rioters or staff. It was a scary time.”
Some of us prepared to meet the onslaught. My colleagues on both sides of the aisle were ready. Flight or fight, I was ready to fight. There were a lot of ladies, a lot of seniors around me who couldn’t move fast. I wasn’t going to go down without a fight. [Capitol Police] were standing behind the barricaded doors with their arms ready to shoot. I was sure there would be shooting at any moment. I didn’t see anyone get through the door, but members heard one person was shot. I didn’t see any weapons from protesters. Some who had stormed [in] were flat on the ground in front of shouting police holding guns. If those guards had fired, it would have been a slaughter. Our Capitol Police showed a lot of restraint.”