Members of former Vice President Mike Pence’s security detail were so afraid for their lives during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot that they made calls over radio to say goodbye to their family members, according to testimony given to the House committee investigating the attack.
“The members of the VP detail at this time were starting to fear for their own lives,” a former White House national security official said in testimony to the committee that aired in a hearing on Thursday.
The official’s identity was withheld for security reasons.
“There was a lot of yelling, a lot of very personal calls over the radio,” the official added. “It was disturbing. I don’t like talking about it, but there were calls to say goodbye to family members. The VP detail thought that this was going to get very ugly.”
After rioters broke into the Capitol, Secret Service rushed Pence to a secure area just off the Senate floor, where he had been presiding over the certification of the 2020 electoral results.
The rioters came within 40 feet of Pence before he was evacuated. Some rioters were chanting for Pence to be hanged, and a gallows was erected outside the building.
Five people died and more than 140 officers were injured in the riot. Witnesses described a war zone at the scene that looked like a “medieval battleground.”
Lawmakers and their staff who hid as the violence erupted on Jan. 6 also feared for their lives.
“I think I was in a state of shock, to be honest. I was absolutely terrified,” Erica Loewe, then a staffer for Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), told HuffPost. “Looking back at the text messages ... to my family and friends, I just asked them all to pray because I really didn’t know what was going to happen. I don’t think I truly understood the gravity of what happened until afterwards, when I saw the images.”