How pro-Trump insurrectionists broke into the U.S. Capitol

A mob of President Trump supporters is seen inside the U.S. Capitol. The rioters breached security and entered the building as Congress met to certify the electoral college votes.
A mob of President Trump supporters is seen inside the U.S. Capitol. The rioters breached security and entered the building as Congress met to certify the electoral college votes. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)

Hundreds of rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol building Wednesday as Congress met to certify electoral college votes for President-elect Joe Biden. The chaotic scene unfolded on a day when thousands of President Trump’s supporters gathered in Washington to protest the outcome of the 2020 election. Trump continues to falsely assert, without evidence, that the presidential election was stolen from him. He encouraged his supporters to attend rallies contesting the election results and spoke on Wednesday moments before rioters breached the Capitol. “We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved,” he said shortly before the mob began moving toward the barricades.

The Washington Post analyzed videos, photos and witness accounts, and mapped the progression of the siege to reconstruct how the event unfolded.


The mob began toppling barricades in front of the Capitol and pushed past Capitol Police officers.

Once past the barricades and police, the rioters ran up the Capitol’s steps, banged on doors and attempted to break in through windows to enter the building.


Once they reached the Capitol, rioters started breaking windows to enter and in another instance, walked into the building, yelling “it’s open."

Inside the Capitol, rioters ran through the halls, tried to push through doors and fought with police. Shortly after 2 p.m., Capitol Police ordered all staff, reporters and nearby senators into the Senate chamber, which was sealed off and put on lockdown.

Members of Congress posted videos and photos saying they would be receiving gas masks to protect them from tear gas as the discord escalated. Inside the House chamber, security officers drew weapons after rioters broke the windows on the chamber’s door. People inside rushed for cover as reports emerged that shots were fired.

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(Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Photos show one of the men who stormed the Capitol sitting in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office with his feet on the desk and the words “WE WILL NOT BACK DOWN” written on a folder.

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(Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
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(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)


Amid the escalating violence, 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt was fatally shot by a U.S. Capitol Police officer, according to two people with knowledge of the incident. Warning: The below video is graphic.

A witness described the shooting incident to WUSA-9, saying: “We had stormed into the chambers inside. And there was a young lady who rushed through the windows. A number of police and Secret Service were saying get back, get down, get out of the way. She didn’t heed the call and as we kind of raced up to grab people and pull them back, they shot her in the neck.”


After several hours, law enforcement officers dispersed the mob inside the Capitol, using stun grenades and other riot-control tactics.

At 6 p.m., authorities said the interior of the Capitol had been secured and no rioters remained. Police announced to those still outside that the curfew imposed by D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) would take effect.

The grounds of the Capitol appeared to return to normal, but signs of the destruction were still visible. A cleaning crew swept the floors in front of the House chamber where the armed standoff took place hours earlier. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) posted video of his ransacked office.

Shortly after 8 p.m., heavily armed FBI agents and police officers in riot gear escorted lawmakers back to the joint session. The Senate reconvened to complete the confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden’s win. “Today was a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol,” Vice President Pence said.

In addition to the fatal shooting, three people died from medical emergencies, according to D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee III. He said police made at least 52 arrests.