Sporting a black helmet and shouting, “Trump! “Trump!,” a West Virginia state delegate pushed his way through the crowd as he narrated on Facebook Live the moment the mob cracked open the doors of Congress.
The recording, which has since been deleted, left state officials from both parties slamming his participation in the mob of pro-Trump supporters who broke into Congress as lawmakers convened to confirm the results of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Amid the violent coup attempt, one woman was shot and killed by police, and three others died of medical emergencies.
In a post shared on his social media hours later, Evans, who did not deny his participation in Wednesday’s events, said he was on a bus headed back to West Virginia.
He claimed that he traveled to the Capitol to film the events as an “independent member of the media.”
“I want to assure you all that I did not have any negative interactions with law enforcement nor did I participate in any destruction that may have occurred,” Evans said in the statement. “I was simply there as an independent member of the media to film history.”
Evans, who was sworn into office last month and represents West Virginia’s Wayne County, is known as a local anti-abortion protester. In 2019, an abortion clinic employee in Charleston, W. Va., filed a restraining order against Evans for alleged “stalking and repeated threat of bodily injury.” He identifies himself as “Derrick Evans - The Activist” on his personal Facebook page.
Evans did not immediately respond to The Washington Post’s request for comment as of early Thursday.
A day ahead of Wednesday’s demonstrations, Evans shared a picture of Trump supporters on a bus headed to D.C. “Two bus loads of Patriots from WV, KY, and Ohio are loaded up and heading to DC. #StopTheSteal,” he said in a Facebook post. “I can’t wait for tomorrow," he said in another post Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Evans began live-streaming around 7 a.m., when he was already by the Washington Monument as President Trump’s supporters gathered before heading to the Capitol building. “Live in D.C., baby!” Evans can be heard saying in the video. “Like three hours before Trump speaks this place is crazy already… It’s unreal, guys. I can’t even explain it. The patriots are fired up, man.”
Hours later, Evans continued live-streaming the demonstrations as Trump supporters stormed through the doors of the Capitol building. Evans has since deleted the recording, but copies posted to social media by others show Evans chanting, “Our house!” moments before he made it inside, cheering, “We’re in, baby!”
Video shows Evans walking through the halls of the Capitol before approaching an officer and fist-bumping him. “God bless you, sir.” he told the officer. “We don’t want nobody hurt. We still respect you.” He continued walking among the crowd shaking hands and fist bumping other supporters shouting “Freedom!”... “We’re in! Oh my Gosh!" Near the end of the clip, he can be heard telling the crowd to refrain from destroying property. “`No destruction of anything. No vandalizing property.”
West Virginia House Speaker Roger Hanshaw (R) condemned the mob and said Evans would have to answer for his actions.
“What occurred today is unpatriotic, un-American and I condemn it in the strongest terms possible,” Hanshaw said in a statement to West Virginia MetroNews. “He will need to answer to his constituents and colleagues regarding his involvement in what has occurred today.”
Democrats called for Evans to be suspended from the legislature.
“This is unacceptable behavior and conduct unbecoming of an elected official,” House Minority Leader Doug Skaff Jr. (D) told MetroNews. “I am calling on Speaker Hanshaw to suspend Delegate Derrick Evans’ rights, privileges and access to West Virginia Capitol Building, immediately and indefinitely, to allow for investigation into this incident.”
Others, including the West Virginia Democratic Party, have asked for his immediate resignation.
“He must be held accountable for participating in an act of insurrection against the United States government and risking the lives of law makers and Capitol police,” West Virginia Democratic Party chair Belinda Biafore and vice-chair Rod Snyder said in a statement.
As of early Thursday, more than 15,000 people had signed a petition asking Evans to be removed from his seat for allegedly “leading and participating in terrorism and going against the constitution and rule of law.”