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Son testifies against Texas father charged with storming Capitol

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Posted at 8:08 AM, Mar 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 09:08:27-05

WASHINGTON (AP) — The son of a Texas man charged with storming the U.S. Capitol with a holstered gun testified Thursday that he secretly recorded his father proudly describing his role in the riot and gave the audio file to an FBI agent after his father, a militia member, threatened him and his sister.

Jackson Reffitt, then 18, said he was terrified and “pretty grossed out” when his father, Guy Wesley Reffitt, told him and his 16-year-old sister that they would be “traitors” if they reported him to law enforcement after the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021. And he told his children that “traitors get shot,” Jackson Reffitt recalled.

“I never thought our father would say that to us,” Jackson Reffitt said on the second day of his father’s trial — the first for any of the hundreds of people charged in the riot.

Jackson Reffitt, a prosecution witness, said he felt a mix of fear and guilt after he met with an FBI agent five days after the riot. He said he told the agent about his father’s threats earlier that day. He also turned over a cellphone recording of a family conversation at their home in Wylie, Texas, near Dallas.

“I don’t regret it,” he said in a quavering voice. “I don’t have words to really describe it.”

Guy Reffitt broke down in tears when prosecutors called his son to the stand, wiping his eyes as his face turned red, according to a pool reporter in the courtroom.

Guy Reffitt, 49, is charged with bringing a gun onto Capitol grounds and interfering with police officers guarding the building. He also is charged with obstructing justice for the alleged threats against his children.

Jackson Reffitt initially contacted the FBI on Christmas Eve, less than two weeks before the Capitol riot, to report concerns about his father’s behavior and increasingly worrisome rhetoric.

For months, Guy Reffitt had spoke repeatedly about doing “something big,” his son recalled. In late December, he told his son he was going to Washington.

“What’s about to happen will shock the world,” Reffitt said in a text message to his son on Christmas Eve. “We are about to rise up the way the Constitution was written,” he wrote in another text.

Jackson Reffitt said he sent a tip about his father through the FBI’s website that day but didn’t get a response until Jan. 6. He said he didn’t know his father had gone to Washington until after the riot erupted.

On his way home to Texas, Guy Reffitt sent his family a link to a video clip from the Fox News website that showed him at the Capitol during the riot.

“A hero,” his son replied.

“It was sarcasm,” Jackson Reffitt explained during his trial testimony.

The younger of Guy Reffitt’s two daughters, Peyton, also is listed as a government witness for her father’s trial. Prosecutors say they expect her to testify that she believed her father was trying to intimidate her and her brother so they wouldn’t contact authorities.