U.S. lawmakers recounted Wednesday frantic scenes of evacuations and being ordered to grab gas masks as pro-Trump extremists stormed the Capitol.
The mob forced the Senate into a recess while it was in the process of certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.
“I was one of a dozen Representatives in the gallery above the House floor. We pulled out gas masks and had to get down on the ground,” Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, a Washington state Democrat, wrote on Twitter.
“Capitol police barricaded the doors and had guns drawn,” she recounted. “We were eventually told that we had to quickly exit.”
“We have been instructed to lie down on the floor and put on our gas masks,” tweeted Dan Kildee, a Michigan Democrat. “Chamber security and Capitol Police have their guns drawn as protesters bang on the front door of the chamber.”
Tear gas was deployed in the Rotunda to deter Trump supporters who breached the Capitol security lines.
Speaking to VOA’s Russian Service, Republican Congressman Greg Murphy of North Carolina said that many of his colleagues were concerned for their safety.
“A lot of folks were concerned. A lot of folks were worried,” he said. “But we were evacuated in a safe and orderly manner.”
As a full lockdown was in effect across Capitol Hill on Wednesday afternoon, many lawmakers took to social media to assure their constituents and followers that they were safe.
Security officials lifted the lockdown on Capitol Hill on Wednesday evening, with dozens of Trump supporters still outside the Capitol despite a 6 p.m. curfew in Washington.
Police were overheard telling lingering Trump supporters and onlookers that they should leave the area voluntarily or risk arrest for violating the curfew.
One woman who was shot during the riot inside the Capitol has died, according to media reports. Her identity has not been made public.