When a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol one year ago, those who work inside its hallowed halls every day were stunned.
“It was an embarrassing day for me, for our party, and it was a difficult, difficult day for members of Congress and the country,” says Rep. Pete Sessions, a longtime Republican congressman.
The Waco native says most of the members there to certify and debate the electoral college votes weren’t fully aware of how dangerous things were getting outside, as they worked inside the building.
“We knew there was some bit of a mob action. We’d seen the videos of people crawling on the outside of the building. As we were attempting to do our business, it became very apparent it was time to vacate,” says Sessions.
He and staff rushed to his Capitol Hill office, where they locked down and waited.
By that time, many of those pushing through police barricades and breaking into the building were storming offices and congressional chambers.
Central Texan Chris Grider was among them, according to a federal indictment.
“What happened a year ago is tragic. He regrets it. He’s trying to move past it,” says Brent Mayr, Grider’s attorney.
The local businessman and co-owner of a popular Texas vineyard still faces more than half a dozen federal charges. Mayr says the case is unlikely to go to trial, or plead out, anytime soon.
“He’s on an ankle monitor. He’s under a curfew. He’s not allowed to travel outside of the Waco area without court permission,” says Mayr. “He [Grider] never expected he would end up at the Capitol that day. He went to D.C. for the rally to support the President, which he had every right to do. From there, it just escalated.”
Sessions worries about if something similar was to happen again.
“The newest reports from Capitol Hill police report is that we are still unprepared if it happened again today," says Sessions.
Capitol Police recently outlined several changes and tactical improvements aimed at increasing security.