Here’s what transpired before and after rioters breached the US Capitol building

Capitol Riots

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — “Where are they?” a Trump supporter demanded in a crowd of dozens roaming the halls of the Capitol, bearing Trump flags and pounding on doors.

They — lawmakers, staff members and more — were hiding under tables, hunkered in lockdowns, saying prayers and watched as protesters stormed into the Capitol.

People shelter in the House gallery as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Guns were drawn. A woman was shot and killed by police, and three others died in apparent medical emergencies. A Trump flag hung on the Capitol. The Rotunda reeked of tear gas. Glass shattered.

U.S. Capitol Police with guns drawn stand near a barricaded door as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

On Wednesday, the mob took over the presiding officer’s chair in the Senate, the offices of the House speaker and the Senate, where one yelled, “Trump won that election.”

They posed for photos in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one with his feet propped on a desk in her office, another sitting in the same seat Vice President Mike Pence had occupied only moments before during the proceedings to certify the Electoral College vote. That certification would eventually take place, but not until well after midnight once members of Congress were able to safely return just before 8 p.m. EST to reconvene.

A supporter of US President Donald Trump sits inside the office of US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as he protest inside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021. – Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

There was a heavy police presence at the Capitol on Thursday morning, including officers from D.C., Maryland and Virginia and the D.C. National Guard. But the streets were quiet.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump told his morning crowd at the Ellipse that he would go with them to the Capitol, but he didn’t. Instead he sent them off with the following comments:

“If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” he said. “Let the weak ones get out,” he went on. “This is a time for strength.”

His lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told the crowd, “Let’s have trial by combat.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) reacted on Twitter, calling out the actions of protesters: “This is a coup attempt.”

Rep. Kinzinger spoke with NewsNation by phone on Wednesday from a safe undisclosed location about the siege on the Capitol.

“This is an absolute coup, it won’t succeed, this is America. The guardrails of democracy will hold strong but I can’t imagine, I could never imagine a scene that we are seeing today,” Kinzinger said. “This is a disaster and this is from a Republican perspective, this will be a stain on our party and is exactly why I have been outspoken because I have seen this coming and it is time to change and restore the GOP that people used to know.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) talks with NewsNation

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., a frequent Trump critic, said, “Today, the United States Capitol — the world’s greatest symbol of self-government — was ransacked while the leader of the free world cowered behind his keyboard.”

Sasse went on: “Lies have consequences. This violence was the inevitable and ugly outcome of the president’s addiction to constantly stoking division.”

Police said they recovered two pipe bombs, one outside the Democratic National Committee and one outside the Republican National Committee and a cooler from a vehicle that had a long gun and Molotov cocktail on Capitol grounds.

Trump, in a video posted 90 minutes after lawmakers were evacuated, told the insurrectionists “We love you. You’re very special,” while asking them to go home.

Authorities eventually regained control as night fell.

Heavily armed officers brought in as reinforcements started using tear gas in a coordinated effort to get people moving toward the door, then combed the halls for stragglers, pushing the mob farther out onto the plaza and lawn, in clouds of tear gas, flash-bangs and percussion grenades.

Watch Riot police clear out Capitol complex

Video footage also showed officers letting people calmly walk out the doors of the Capitol despite the rioting and vandalism. Only about a dozen arrests were made in the hours after authorities regained control. They said a woman was shot earlier as the mob tried to break through a barricaded door in the Capitol where police were armed on the other side.

She was hospitalized with a gunshot wound and later died.

BEFORE THE BREACH

Early on, some inside the Capitol saw the trouble coming outside the windows. Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota surveyed the growing crowd on the grounds not long after Trump had addressed his supporters by the Ellipse, fueling their grievances over an election that he and they say he won, against all evidence.

“I looked out the windows and could see how outmanned the Capitol Police were,” Phillips said. Under the very risers set up for Biden’s inauguration, Trump supporters clashed with police who blasted pepper spray in an attempt to hold them back.

Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud.(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

It didn’t work. Throngs of maskless demonstrators wearing MAGA hats tore down metal barricades at the bottom of the Capitol’s steps. Some in the crowd were shouting “traitors” as officers tried to keep them back. They broke into the building.

US CAPITOL BREACHED BY RIOTERS

Announcements blared: Due to an “external security threat,” no one could enter or exit the Capitol complex, the recording said. A loud bang sounded as officials detonated a suspicious package to make sure it was not dangerous.

NewsNation’s Joe Khalil describes the Capitol under lockdown

It was about 1:15 p.m. when New Hampshire Rep. Chris Pappas, a Democrat, said Capitol Police banged on his door and “told us to drop everything, get out as quickly as we could.”

“It was breathtaking how quickly law enforcement got overwhelmed by these protesters,” he told The Associated Press.

Shortly after 2 p.m., Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Vice President Mike Pence were evacuated from the Senate as protesters and police shouted outside the doors.

“Protesters are in the building,” were the last words picked up by a microphone carrying a live feed of the Senate before it shut off.

People shelter in the House gallery as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Police evacuated the chamber at 2:30 p.m., grabbing boxes of Electoral College certificates as they left.

Phillips yelled at Republicans, “This is because of you!”

Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., told reporters he was in the House chamber when protesters began storming it. He said security officers urged lawmakers to put gas masks on and herded them into a corner of the massive room.

“When we got over to the other side of the gallery, the Republican side, they made us all get down, you could see that they were fending off some sort of assault, it looked like,” he said. “They had a piece of furniture up against the door, the door, the entry to the floor from the Rotunda, and they had guns pulled.” The officers eventually escorted the lawmakers out of the chamber.

Shortly after being told to put on gas masks, most members were quickly escorted out of the chamber. But some members remained in the upper gallery seats, where they had been seated due to distancing requirements.

Along with a group of reporters who had been escorted from the press area and Capitol workers who act as ushers, the members ducked on the floor as police secured a door to the chamber down below with guns pointed. After making sure the hallways were clear, police swiftly escorted the members and others down a series of hallways and tunnels to a cafeteria in one of the House office buildings.

Describing the scene, Democratic Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut said “there was a point there where officers had their guns and weapons pointed at the door, they were obviously expecting a breach through the door. It was clear that there were pretty close to pulling the trigger so they asked us all to get down in the chamber.”

As he walked out of the Capitol, Himes said he had lived in Latin America and “always assumed it could never happen here.”

“We’ve known for four years that our democracy was in peril and this is hopefully the worst and final moment of it,” Himes said. “But with a president egging these people on, with the Republicans doing all they can to try to make people feel like their democracy has been taken away from them even though they’re the ones doing the taking, it’s really hard, really sad. I spent my entire political career reaching out to the other side. And it’s really hard to see this.”

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) talks with NewsNation

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) spoke to NewsNation by phone as he sheltered in place and described how members of Congress in chambers were evacuated.

“Leadership first, then they continued and then there was another breach into the Statutory Hall — which is steps away from the floor,” Quigley said. “Masks were pulled out from underneath our seats. Tear gas was dispersed inside the Statutory Hall. More members were evacuated, we were moved to a corner, members told to lay down or get very low. Capitol police, crouch with their guns drawn. It’s kind of surreal to describe.”

“This is how a coup is started,” said Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif. “This is how democracy dies.”

Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Andrew Taylor, Lisa Mascaro, Calvin Woodward, Ben Fox, Ashraf Khalil, Alan Fram and Michael Balsamo and Michael Casey in Concord contributed to this report.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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