A former far-right militia member testified Friday in the first trial stemming from January 6, 2021.
The witness recalled that Capitol rioters were “like spiders” as they climbed up the building.
The ex-Three Percenters member said he felt “impressed” by Guy Reffitt after the Capitol attack.
Before setting out in January 2021 from Texas to Washington, DC, Guy Reffitt determined he could lawfully carry a concealed handgun at every stop along the way except his destination: the nation’s capital.
But, with a Texas-issued concealed carry permit, he decided to bring a firearm anyway. For him, the risk of prosecution was outweighed by the fear of lacking protection — and possibly dying — in the event of violence on January 6, his traveling companion recalled in court on Friday.
“I think we used the phrase, ‘It’s better to be tried by a jury of 12 than carried by 6 [pallbearers],'” said Rocky Hardie, a former member of the far-right Three Percenters militia, who said he met Reffitt through the group and accompanied him in Washington, DC, on January 6.
Almost 14 months to the day after their trip, Reffitt was on trial with a jury of 12 on Friday, with his travel companion testifying against him in a federal courtroom. Reffitt pleaded not guilty last year after being charged with that he obstructed an official proceeding, brought a gun to the Capitol grounds, and later threatened his children to keep them from reporting him to law enforcement.
Hardie on Friday said he and Reffitt were both armed on the Capitol grounds, in testimony that also recalled how he met Reffitt through the Three Percenters and planned to travel with him to Washington, DC, for the events of January 6.
“In life, most people talk but they don’t do. He seems to be a person that actually does things and gets things done,” Hardie said.
Hardie testified Friday with limited immunity. In exchange for his testimony, prosecutors agreed not to use any of his testimony against him, but the Justice Department has not ruled out bringing charges against him in connection with January 6.
In his testimony Friday, Hardie recalled approaching the Capitol with Reffitt before being separated. Hardie said he remained in radio contact with Reffitt and recounted that the rioters were “like spiders” as they climbed the walls and scaffolding of the Capitol.
On the drive from Texas to DC, Hardie said he and Reffitt spoke about dragging lawmakers out of the Capitol by their heels. Hardie recalled joking about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s head hitting the stairs on the way out of the building.
But, Hardie said, “I didn’t think it was anything someone was going to act on.” He envisioned January 6 would be limited to “standing around” and “listening to the president.”
“I didn’t think he or anybody was going to get close to the Capitol. I thought that was impossible,” Hardie said.
His testimony cast Hardie as a hanger-on of sorts who joined Reffitt outside the Capitol on January 6, but left his side as ascended the steps.
Earlier in the trial, prosecutors showed video footage of Reffitt wearing a tactical helmet and protective vest as he led a crowd up the steps, with Capitol police firing marble-sized “pepper balls” at him. Reffitt was eventually stopped with a potent pepper spray, and he did not enter the Capitol building itself.
Hardie on Friday recalled feeling “impressed” with Reffitt, who showed his bruised legs at their hotel after the Capitol attack. On a nightstand in their hotel room, Hardie said, was the handgun he believed Reffitt took to the Capitol.
Reffitt had “more courage than I did,” Hardie said.
“I wasn’t going to go up there,” he added.
‘The shit is now hitting the fan’
After returning to Texas, Reffitt recounted his activities on January 6 with fellow members of the Three Percenters. A portion of the Zoom call was played to jurors Friday.
But, within days, Reffitt changed his tune as he learned that law enforcement was tracking down suspected participants in the January 6 attack.
In one text message, he wrote, “The shit is now hitting the fan.” In another, he wrote, “Start purge of all previous conversations.”
Asked how he felt about Reffitt’s messages, Hardie responded: “Uh-oh.”
“That’s what came to my mind,” he said. “We had gone to Washington, DC, and … for some reason, things were coming back to us.”
Hardie’s testimony came a day after Reffitt’s son, Jackson Reffitt, took the stand to testify against his father. The elder Reffitt broke down in tears at the sight of his 19-year-old son taking the stand.
Witness testimony and closing arguments are expected to end early next week, but Judge Dabney Friedrich has voiced frustration with the slow pace of the proceeding and urged prosecutors to pick up the pace of their questioning.
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