WASHINGTON, DC -- El Paso Congresswoman Veronica Escobar was among the lawmakers who sheltered in place as a group of violent protesters forced their way into at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
In an interview with ABC-7 after law enforcement hours later regained control of the Capitol building, Escobar elaborated on what she initially described on Twitter as "chaos and lawlessness @realDonaldTrump has created."
Here are Escobar's recollections in her own words to ABC-7 about what she says will be remembered as a dark and tragic day in American history...
"I’m fine. I’m safe. Thank God. My staff is safe, thank God. Thank God it was not worse. There has been bloodshed today, but it could’ve been in far worse numbers today.
The moment that I really started getting concerned was when I saw on Twitter that (protesters) had reached the top of the Capitol steps. I knew they were literally just outside the Capitol door. They would have to walk in through the Capitol door in order to get to the House floor door and I had hoped that there was at least a line of defense of law enforcement standing inside preventing them from getting inside, but clearly that was not the case.
At one point we were told that the mob had gotten into Statuary Hall (a chamber in the Capitol devoted to sculptures of prominent Americans) which is on the other side of an entrance. They were close. They were like circling around below us.
The Capitol Police took to the microphone and told us to immediately down, sit down. Somebody behind me asked why do they want us to sit down. And I said because clearly these guys have guns. And they don’t want us to be a target. So we sat down. They told us to be prepared to get down. To crouch down again so we wouldn’t be targets for the gunfire.
They proceeded to tell us to get the gas masks out from under our seat. The gas masks – they wanted us to have them ready to go because gas had to be used on the mob in Statuary Hall. So we were just ripping open, trying to figure out how to open these – that’s when I felt really nervous.
Obviously in El Paso we know what happens when there is a shooter and people are in a contained space. I was definitely scared and very nervous... People kept yelling get down get down! Right after that Capitol Police came in. Everyone who was on the floor was ushered out.
At the very beginning, I knew something was wrong when the went in and swept (House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi away. The gas mask situation, that freaked me out. It made me concerned getting out and getting to safety, what that would be like.
It was more difficult to get those of us in the gallery out. They told us to get down. I could hear the mob outside. I could totally hear some very loud screaming. Then Capitol Police told us to get out on the other end. So we all had to crouch down on one side of the gallery to the other.
It was when I was on the other side of the gallery it sounded like the mob was going to come in. Capitol Police moved a big piece of furniture in front of the door in order to block their ability to get in – and pointed their guns – the glass broke. Capitol Police pointed their guns and then told them to put their weapons down, to get away from the door. Capitol Police that were up in the gallery were told to get down.
My beautiful colleague Lisa Blunt Rochester began praying. It was definitely a terrifying moment. Then we heard a knocking on the door right behind us. A couple of us were like, 'do not open the door! Do not open the door unless you know who it is.' They said it was Capitol Police and that’s when we got out, through a tunnel into a location where we are now – about 150 of us – members and staff who are here waiting while the Capitol is cleared so we can return and proceed with the business at hand.
It was a coup. An attempted coup. This is beyond absolute lawlessness. This is beyond rioting. This is an attempt to subvert an election. This is an attempt to install an authoritarian regime in place of a democracy. It is heartbreaking, tragic, horrific, terrifying and, frankly, it’s an outrage.
And the fact that there are countries across the globe watching on their televisions, watching an attempted coup on American soil should outrage every single American in our country. This is unbelievable.
I would support absolutely anything that would remove (Donald Trump) from office immediately. He is a threat to our democracy. He is a threat to public safety. This is a man who incites violence for his personal purposes. His enablers are right there with him, helping him bring America to her knees. I don’t know that we would have support to have him removed, but I’m very concerned for our country until Jan. 20th.
It is my hope that my Republican colleagues feel remorse and withdraw their objection and perform the function that the Constitution requires them to perform (to certify the electoral vote). I hope that they do some soul searching.
This is a real national security risk. What happened today is unacceptable. Why we did not have more protection for the Speaker and Vice President Pence? The second, third persons in line to presidency - they were this vulnerable. That our government and our institutions are this vulnerable, I’m afraid of what it broadcast to the world.
I was surprised, I really was. I didn’t realize we were that vulnerable. When I was sitting there crouched in the gallery, I thought there would be a mass shooter who would come in and shoot us all up. I really did think that."