EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — “You could feel the tension from inside the chambers,” Congresswoman Veronica Escobar told KTSM 9 News of the chaos that occurred on Capitol Hill on Wednesday afternoon.
Pro-Trump protestors stormed the U.S. Capitol as members of Congress prepared for electoral vote count debates to begin.
Escobar told KTSM that she was seated with other members of Congress inside gallery chambers, where the lawmakers could feel tension brewing outside and relied on Twitter for outside updates.
“The Capitol was breached,” said Escobar.
“I could hear them,” she continued, speaking with KTSM from the basement of a secure location, where she and other members of Congress sheltered in place.
“Capitol Police told us that we urgently needed to get our gas masks on because the terrorists — I’m not calling them protestors — had taken over Statuary Hall,” said Escobar.
Escobar was among the last to exit the hall, saying that Congress members on the floor were evacuated first and those in the gallery were evacuated later.
The mob had infiltrated the House chamber, while Escobar and 50 others were still inside the chamber.
“They were banging on the doors and broke the glass to the doors. Capitol Police used a big piece of furniture and barricaded the doors,:” she said. “They had their guns pointed through the door and were instructing them to put their weapons down.”
“I heard shots fired,” she continued.
Video footage captured from the Hill Wednesday afternoon showed scenes of insurrection and confrontations between dissenters and law enforcement.
Escobar said she and the other lawmakers crouched on the ground until Capitol Police cleared the way for the Congress members to quickly shuffle down several flights of stairs to a secure location.
About 200 members of Congress and staff continue to shelter underground.
In El Paso, Irene Armendariz Jackson, who ran against Escobar in 2020, hosted a pro-Trump protest in downtown El Paso.
“It’s hard to imagine sinking any lower, but week after week, we’ve gone even lower,” Escobar said of the civil unrest brought on by the contested election results.
Escobar condemned President Trump’s rhetoric that has fanned conspiracy theories and unfounded mistrust in the election process.
“I pray that his supporters will remove the blinders, and see what they are doing to themselves and what they’re doing to the country. This is wrong,” she said.
Escobar said she and the other lawmakers, who remain sheltering in place, are eager to return to work to certify the electoral college vote count.
“This is a very tragic moment that didn’t have to be so,” she said. “But we have to carry on and defend our country by upholding our oaths. And I intend on upholding my oath.”
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