“They called us traitors. They beat us. They dragged us,” US Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell recalled in an interview with CNN, recounting what he experienced during the January 6 insurrection. “And I could hear them, ‘We’re going to shoot you. We’re going to kill you. You’re choosing your paycheck over the country. You’re a disgrace. You’re a traitor.’”
Gonell was severely injured during the January attack on the Capitol when a mob of thousands of supporters of Donald Trump stormed the building over the results of the election.
Five people died from the violence that day. Officers like Gonell and Byron Evans described near-death experiences at the hands of the mob.
“I remember thinking, all that stuff like, Byron, this is the day. All those times you’ve given thought on what you would do, you’re doing it. This is the day,” Evans said, recalling his thought process as he was locked in the Senate Chamber with 100 senators and former Vice President Mike Pence.
Hundreds of officers were at the Capitol that day, though the mob, clad with Trump and confederate gear, overran their barriers, wounding the officers on their way into the Capitol building. Gonell has undergone several surgeries and told CNN he still suffers from the injuries he sustained during the insurrection.
While helping a fellow officer, Gonell said the mob grabbed onto him and started grabbing at anything they could.
“It was very scary, because I thought I was going to lose my life,” Gonell said. “Then I started getting beat up with a flagpole, with a flag, the American flag that I swore to defend here and overseas. And I don’t know how I got this strength, but I hit that person so hard that they let me go. I started backpedaling.”
Republicans recently voted not to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate what led up to the Capitol attack while the DOJ and security agencies continue their investigation.
Photo: Getty Images