A Texas man who bragged to family about participating in the Capitol riot later threatened to kill his children if they ever went to police about it, according to federal court records.
Guy Wesley Reffitt, an oil worker and suspected member of the extremist militia group Texas Freedom Force, was shown on video of the Jan. 6 Capitol uprising wearing a tactical vest and a black helmet with a GoPro-style camera attached.
»MORE: Leader of Oath Keepers charged with conspiracy in Capitol riot
Reffitt was arrested Saturday by the FBI and charged with obstruction for threatening his family and also with unlawful entry to the Capitol during the riot, reports said.
Reffitt’s wife told agents she didn’t believe Reffitt would follow through on his threat, although the man “did not indicate regret or take anything back,” she said in a witness statement.
She also noted that Reffitt was “super passionate.”
After the riot, Reffitt returned to Wylie, Texas, exuberant and boastful about the experience, but once he learned about the FBI dragnet he warned his family to forget what he told them, reports said.
“If you turn me in, you’re a traitor and you know what happens to traitors ... traitors get shot,” the 48-year-old told his son and daughter, according to the man’s wife, who cooperated with the FBI.
Reffitt’s spouse also revealed that he was a member of the Three Percenters — a right-wing extremist group that adheres to the false claim that only 3% of Americans took up arms against the British during the Revolutionary War.
Reffitt made clear to his children that he did not want to be discovered for his involvement in the riot, reports said.
Reffitt’s son, 18, told police that his father ordered him and his sister to “erase everything,” and if they “crossed the line” and didn’t comply Reffitt said he would “do what he had to do,” the charging documents allege.
Reffitt’s son said his father next threatened his sister, telling her not to post anything on social media or he would “put a bullet through” her phone, reports said.
Unbeknownst to Reffitt, agents had already tracked the movements of his phone, which placed him at the Capitol during the attack. Agents also found Reffitt’s cellphone and email address on a website for Texas Freedom Force.
“I love him, but I hate him,” his son said, according to The Washington Post, adding that his father’s beliefs had turned more radical and politicized during the last four years. “I don’t really know him anymore,” he said.
The FBI identified Reffitt by comparing his image in video from the mob scene outside the Capitol to his driver’s license, reports said.
Reffitt told agents he never went inside the Capitol.
Agents searching Reffitt’s home discovered an AR-15 rifle and a handgun, which Reffitt admitted to having in Washington, although he said the gun was disassembled at the time.
Prosecutors are focusing heavily on the role played by right-wing extremists such as the Three Percenters, Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers now that their presence at the riot has been confirmed.
Federal investigators were looking at whether the fringe groups plotted the Capitol uprising with more sinister aims after photos and video revealed coordination by certain actors weaving through the raucous crowd in tactical gear and carrying flex-cuffs to presumably take hostages.
On Tuesday, the FBI arrested the 65-year-old leader of the extremist group Oath Keepers. He was charged with planning and coordinating the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — becoming the first to face conspiracy in the case, according to reports.
Thomas Edward Caldwell, of Clarke County, Virginia, was arrested early Tuesday on four federal counts, including conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States.
Recent arrests of white nationalists in Ohio, Colorado, Indiana and Texas have helped law enforcement develop a clearer understanding about the depth of the attack by President Donald Trump’s supporters who stormed Congress nearly two weeks ago in an attempt to overthrow confirmation of Joe Biden’s election win.
As congressional offices and chambers were ransacked, and the crowd chanted “Kill Mike Pence,” lawmakers hid the Electoral College ballots and took shelter from the angry mob. Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer. A Georgia man who participated in the insurrection later committed suicide.