WASHINGTON – When a group of pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol and smashed windows on Wednesday, a woman jumped onto a pane and started through.
Seconds later, a gunshot rang out and the woman, who had a Trump flag tied around her waist, tipped back and fell onto the marble floor as blood spilled from her shoulder.
“They shot a girl!” someone yelled as the crowd ran out of the southeast entrance.
She died later that day, police said. She was one of four fatalities from the violent rioting that wreaked havoc through the halls of Congress on Wednesday, halting the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Three others died of unspecified medical emergencies during the chaos.
The woman was 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt, a California native and Air Force veteran, her former husband told The Washington Post. Before her death in the Capitol, she had used her social media to express fervent support for President Donald Trump and echo many of the president’s conspiracy theories and false claims of mass voter fraud.
Police have not yet confirmed Babbitt’s identity or confirmed details about how she was shot. The woman was shot by U.S. Capitol Police, Washington D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee III told reporters on Wednesday.
Babbitt, a native of San Diego, served in Afghanistan and Iraq in the Air Force before other deployments with the National Guard to Kuwait and Qatar, ex-husband Timothy McEntee told The Post. McEntee and Babbitt met in the Air Force and were married for 14 years, before splitting in May 2019.
McEntee, who did not know Babbitt had traveled to D.C. for the protests, was shocked by the news of her death and described her as smart and strong-willed.
“I feel absolutely terrible and sick to my stomach about it,” he wrote in a text message. “She was never afraid to speak her mind and in a way this was her way of speaking her mind (going to the rally).”
McEntee said Babbitt had remarried and owned a pool supply company with her husband, Aaron Babbitt.
Babbitt’s mother-in-law told WTTG, who did not identify her by name, that her son did not accompany Babbitt to Washington.
“I really don’t know why she decided to do this,” she said.
In an interview with San Diego station KUSI, Babbitt’s husband said she was a passionate Trump supporter. McEntee echoed those sentiments, adding that she was “very loud and opinionated, but caring, sweet, thoughtful, loving.”
“You would never forget meeting her,” he wrote.
#KUSINews has confirmed the identity of the woman shot and killed inside US Capitol.
— KUSI News (@KUSINews) January 7, 2021
On social media, Babbitt recorded combative videos about immigration policy, while expressing her support for a border wall. In early September, she tweeted a picture from a Trump boat parade in San Diego wearing a shirt that said, “We are Q,” referring to QAnon, the far-right conspiracy theory. The tweet also included the hashtag “#WWG1WGA,” an acronym used by supporters who believe in the claims that Trump was battling a group of “deep state” child abusers.
Babbitt also retweeted messages calling for Vice President Pence to resign and be charged with treason, videos of Trump rallies and photos of the president’s supporters flying to D.C. for the protests.
In one of her final posts, she responded to a tweet saying that many flights to D.C. were canceled because of weather. “The entire world is corrupt,” the person said.
In response, Babbitt 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!”
Get Boston.com's browser alerts:
Enable breaking news notifications straight to your internet browser.