“If you turn me in, you’re a traitor and you know what happens to traitors … traitors get shot,” Reffitt, 48, said to his son and daughter, according to his wife, who recounted the conversation to the FBI, which did not name the relatives.
On Saturday, the FBI caught up to him. Reffitt, an oil worker with ties to self-styled militia and right-wing extremist groups, was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly threatening his family and unlawful entry into the Capitol.
Reffitt is one of more than 100 individuals who have been charged with breaching the Capitol earlier this month. In recent days, the FBI has arrested several with alleged connections to extremist groups, signaling the investigation into the violence at the Capitol is homing in on people who were more prepared, organized and encouraged violence, The Washington Post reported.
Robert Gieswein, a 24-year-old charged on Saturday with assaulting police, civil disorder and obstruction of police and government, is allegedly linked to three extremist groups: the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and Three Percenters. Jessica Watkins, a 38-year-old bartender and Army veteran who was arrested on Saturday, founded the “Ohio State Regular Militia,” a unit of the Oath Keepers, the FBI said.
Reffitt’s wife told federal agents that her husband is also a member of the Three Percenters, a right-wing movement founded on the false belief that only 3 percent of colonists fought the British during the Revolutionary War.
According to an affidavit from FBI agent Thomas B. Ryan submitted in D.C. federal court on Saturday, Reffitt appeared in video footage of the insurrection published by Reuters. The footage was later shown on Fox News, according to court documents. Reffitt is seen wearing a blue jacket, tactical-style vest and a black helmet with a GoPro camera affixed to the front as he appeared to pour water on his eyes to flush out chemical irritants.
The FBI agent identified Reffitt by comparing the image in the video to his driver’s license, according to the affidavit. The agent then found his cellphone and email address on a website for “Texas Freedom Force,” which the FBI identified as a militia extremist group. Cellphone tracking data placed Reffitt at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Federal agents searched Reffitt’s home on Saturday. His son told an FBI agent that his father came home two days after the attempted insurrection carrying his AR-15 rifle and a Smith & Wesson pistol and revealed he had gone armed to Washington, “stormed the Capitol” and recorded the events on his GoPro.
Reffitt’s son told authorities that around Jan. 11, he told him and his sister to “erase everything.” The man then allegedly told his son that if he “crossed the line and reported Reffitt to the police, putting the family in jeopardy, Reffitt would have no option but to do Reffitt’s duty for Reffitt’s country, and ‘do what he had to do,’ ” the affidavit said.
Reffitt then allegedly threatened his daughter, Reffitt’s son said, warning her that if she recorded his comments or posted anything about it on social media, he would “put a bullet through” her phone.
Reffitt’s wife, who was not home when her husband allegedly threatened their children, confronted her husband. She says he told her “he was trying to protect the family, and if someone was a traitor, then that’s what’s going to happen,” according to the FBI.
Reffitt’s wife told the FBI that her husband is “super passionate” but didn’t believe he would act on his threats. She added he “did not indicate regret or take anything back,” according to the affidavit.
In an interview with KXAS, Reffitt’s son, who is 18, said his father has become increasingly obsessed with politics over the past four years. His son blamed President Trump for manipulating his father.
“I love him but I hate him,” he said of his father. “I don’t really know him anymore.”
Upon his arrest on Saturday, Reffitt told agents he brought a disassembled pistol to D.C. and that he attended the Capitol on Jan. 6, but “did not go inside.”
It is not clear who is representing Reffitt or when he is due in federal court.
Rachel Weiner contributed to this report.