A U.S. Capitol Police officer who fatally shot a San Diego woman during an insurgent raid on the halls of Congress was on administrative leave Thursday pending investigations into the gunfire.
Ashli Babbiit, 35, a vocal supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory, was killed in the shooting Wednesday afternoon inside the Capitol building as she joined other rioters in storming the complex.
“As protesters were forcing their way toward the House Chamber where members of Congress were sheltering in place, a sworn USCP employee discharged their service weapon, striking an adult female,” Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said in a statement. “Medical assistance was rendered immediately, and the female was transported to the hospital where she later succumbed to her injuries. She has been identified as Ashli Babbitt.”
Sund said the unidentified officer who shot Babbitt was placed on administrative leave, per department policy, and the officer’s police powers have been suspended. The Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department is also investigating the shooting.
Multiple videos from the scene showed Babbitt draped in a Trump flag climbing through a shattered window just before a gunshot rings out. The woman falls back to the floor and others in the crowd attend to her.
Family members identified her to various media outlets Wednesday night, saying she was a 14-year Air Force veteran.
Online records and Babbitt’s Facebook page identify her as the CEO of Fowler’s Pool Service and Supply Inc. in Spring Valley, which she co-owned with her husband, Aaron.
Babbitt’s Twitter page features and re-tweeted numerous politically oriented posts in support of Donald Trump. One tweet from September last year included a photo of her at a Trump boat parade in San Diego wearing a shirt that read “We are Q.” The tweet also included the phrase WWG1WGA — QAnon’s acronym for “Where we got one, we go all.”
Her final Twitter post, made Wednesday, said, “Nothing will stop us….they can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours….dark to light!”
Babbitt was one of four people who died at or near the Capitol Wednesday, Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said. Three other people suffered apparent medical emergencies.
Babbitt’s ex-husband, Timothy McEntee, told The Washington Post that she served tours of duty with the Air Force in Afghanistan and Iraq, and was deployed to Kuwait and Qatar with the National Guard.
“I feel absolutely terrible and sick to my stomach about it,” McEntee told the paper. “She was never afraid to speak her mind and in a way this (attending Wednesday’s rally) was her way of speaking her mind.”
In his statement, Sund said more than 50 Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police Department officers were injured in Wednesdays’ insurgency, and “several USCP officers have been hospitalized with serious injuries.” One officer later died from his injuries.
Capitol Police have faced criticism in the aftermath of the riot, but Sund called the attack “unlike any I have every experienced in my 30 years in law enforcement.”
“Maintaining public safety in an open environment — specifically for First Amendment activities — has long been a challenge,” he said. “The USCP had a robust plan established to address anticipated First Amendment activities. But make no mistake — these mass riots were not First Amendment activities; they were criminal riotous behavior. The actions of the USCP officers were heroic given the situation they faced, and I continue to have tremendous respect in the professionalism and dedication of the women and men of the United States Capitol Police.”
–City News Service