CALIFORNIA — As Congress worked through electoral college votes to formally elect Joe Biden, protesters busted through Capitol Police lines, successfully breaching the Capitol building.

Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA 46) explained what he saw to Spectrum News 1 while under lockdown.

What You Need To Know

  • Protesters rushed through police and into the Capitol

  • Many protesters outside remained peaceful

  • Members of Congress were escorted to another location in the Capitol complex

  • President Donald Trump, who many members of Congress believe incited the riot, tweeted to call for the violence to end

“It was quite a tense situation and still is,” he said. “We were starting to go through the Arizona vote counts, we were having a debate and you could hear things outside.”

There was loud banging, and some protesters had shattered windows to try and gain entry. Capitol Police ran through the chamber, calling for members to get their heads down. 

It had appeared, he said, that protesters had forced their way inside. Outside, national television feeds showed quiet protesters milling about with hands stuffed in pockets of winter coats and warm hats pulled low over their eyes.

Inside, cameras recorded footage of Capitol Police holding nightsticks and clashing with protesters and rioters.

Correa said he was helping some members who were wearing high heels as the commotion of protesters became louder.

“Some of us prepared to meet the onslaught,” he said. “My colleagues on both sides of the aisle were ready. Flight or fight, I was ready to fight. There were a lot of ladies, a lot of seniors around me who couldn’t move fast. I wasn’t going to go down without a fight.”

Capitol Police then began barricading the door, Correa explained, pulling heavy desks with glistening varnished wood to wedge against the doors of the House Chamber.

“[Capitol Police] were standing behind the barricaded doors with their arms ready to shoot,” he said. “I was sure there would be shooting at any moment.”

Correa didn’t see anyone get through the door, but members heard one person was shot. Correa added that he saw no weapons from protesters. Some who had stormed were flat on the ground in front of shouting police holding guns.

Correa, who spoke by phone through a gas mask he’d been instructed to put on, made it to a location still inside the building. He declined to say where and was awaiting further instruction from the police.

“If those guards had fired, it would have been a slaughter,” he said. “Our Capitol Police showed a lot of restraint.”

Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-CA 47) released a statement: “I am still safe within the Capitol complex. Today’s events are a tragic embarrassment for our country. There is no way to hide the fact that the president is responsible for this chaos, and must order his supporters to withdraw. We will not be terrorized. Democracy is stronger than any of us.”

Once in safety, Correa paused to grab a snack, calling President Donald Trump “a dictator” and accusing him of stirring up protesters with frequent tweets.

“This has united Democrats and Republicans calling on Trump to knock it off,” Correa said. “We’re the embarrassments of the world.”