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Monday, January 18, 2021

Woman killed in siege of US Capitol was veteran who embraced conspiracy theories

Babbitt, 35, was an avid supporter of US President Trump, her husband told KUSI News. Her posts and retweets on Twitter backed Trump’s false assertions that he was defeated because Democrats elaborately rigged the November 3 election.

By: Reuters | January 8, 2021 12:46:14 am
US Capitol Hill siege, Trump supporters protests, US riotsSmoke fills the walkway outside the Senate Chamber as supporters of President Donald Trump are confronted by U.S. Capitol Police officers inside the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

The woman shot dead by police during Wednesday’s siege of the U.S. Capitol was identified by police as Ashli Babbitt, a U.S. Air Force veteran whose social media activity indicates she embraced far-fetched right-wing conspiracy theories.

Babbitt, 35, was an avid supporter of U.S. President Trump, her husband told KUSI News. Her posts and retweets on Twitter backed Trump’s false assertions that he was defeated because Democrats elaborately rigged the Nov. 3 election.

The Twitter account @Ashli_Babbitt, which includes photographs of her, shared many posts in recent weeks flagging her excitement over attending the Trump rally on Jan. 6.

The day before, she wrote: “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!”

Trump ended a speech on Wednesday with exhortations to his supporters to march on the Capitol. Shortly after, some of them began smashing their way in while Congress met to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Video of the shooting posted by a freelance journalist on social media shows a chaotic moment between the Trump-supporting intruders and police in a hallway in the Capitol. There is the sound of a single gunshot before the video shows a woman, whose appearance matches that of Babbitt’s photos, wearing a Trump flag on the ground, bleeding profusely and visibly in shock. People around her scream and try to tend to her injuries.

The U.S. Capitol Police confirmed in a statement on Thursday that a woman identified as Ashli Babbitt had been shot by an officer as protesters were forcing their way into the House Chamber. They said she later died of her injuries in a hospital.

Relatives of Babbitt, whose social media activity and business records indicate ran a pool cleaning service in San Diego, California, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Babbitt served in the U.S. Air Force as a senior airman while on active duty from 2004 to 2008, the Air Force said in a statement. She also served in the Air Force Reserve between 2008 and 2010, and in the Air National Guard from 2010 until 2016, the statement said.

Babbitt posted a picture of herself on Twitter at a Trump boat rally in September, smiling with another person, both of them wearing tops bearing the slogans and imagery of QAnon, a sprawling cult-like conspiracy theory that has been embraced by some Trump supporters.

QAnon adherents believe claims by one or more unidentified people posting on Internet messageboards under the name ‘Q’ who say that Trump is secretly fighting a cabal of child-sex predators that includes powerful U.S. elites.

Robin Babbitt, who identified herself as Ashli Babbitt’s mother-in-law on Twitter on Thursday, wrote: “Can’t stop crying. … She was such a wonderful kind person, and a serious military woman. Strong, Smart, Kind.”

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