08 January 2021 02:38
Ashli Babbitt: Family pays tribute to Air Force veteran shot dead during Capitol riots Tributes have been paid by the family of Ashli Babbitt. Picture: Facebook By Patrick Grafton-Green The family of the woman who was shot dead when Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol have paid tribute, calling her a "great patriot". A violent throng of pro-Trump rioters spent hours running rampant through the building on Wednesday as Congress tried to formally validate Joe Biden's presidential election victory. Ashli Babbitt, 35, from San Diego, was shot dead by a plain-clothed police officer as she attempted to enter the House chamber. LIVE: Trump pledges 'orderly transition' of power after four die in clashes at Capitol READ MORE: Home Secretary Priti Patel condemns US violence as 'shocking beyond words' on LBC Her husband Aaron told television station KUSI that she spent 14 years in the US Air Force, serving four tours of duty.
According to the station, he said she was a strong supporter of Donald Trump and a "great patriot to all who knew her". Her mother-in-law, Robin Babbitt, told Fox 5 on Wednesday evening: "I really don't know why she decided to do this." "I'm numb. I'm devastated. Nobody from DC notified my son and we found out on TV," she later told the New York Post. Her brother-in-law, Justin Jackson, told NBC 7: "Ashli was both loyal as well as extremely passionate about what she believed in.
She loved this country and felt honoured to have served in our Armed Forces. Please keep her family in your thoughts and respect their privacy during this time." The rampage began on Wednesday shortly after Mr Trump repeated his unfounded claims of election fraud to thousands of rallying demonstrators he had invited to Washington. Many protesters then surged to the Capitol after he incited them to go there as the electoral votes were debated in the House of Representatives and Senate. They forced their way into the building, smashing windows and forcing officials to flee the building shielded by police. More than six hours after the violence erupted, the session was resumed and the House and Senate certified the Democrat's electoral college win early on Thursday. Mr Biden defeated Mr Trump by 306-232 electoral votes and will be inaugurated on January 20. The people close to Ms. Babbitt have all responded with shock. Her husband, Aaron Babbitt, 39, told a Fox affiliate in San Diego that he had sent his wife a message about 30 minutes before the shooting, and she never responded. Her brother, Roger Witthoeft, 32, said Ms. Babbitt had not told her family that she was planning to go to Washington. But he was not surprised that she would protest. "My sister was 35 and served 14 years — to me that's the majority of your conscious adult life," said Mr. Witthoeft, of Lakeside, Calif. "If you feel like you gave the majority of your life to your country and you're not being listened to, that is a hard pill to swallow. That's why she was upset." Ms. Babbitt, who had four younger brothers, was raised in a mostly apolitical household, Mr. Witthoeft said. Their father worked in commercial flooring and their mother in a school program. Ms. Babbitt enlisted in the Air Force after finishing high school. While on active duty from 2004 to 2008, she met and married her first husband, Timothy McEntee. She worked as an enlisted security forces controller, a job whose duties include guarding gates at Air Force bases, and was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. She then served in the Air Force Reserves and the Air National Guard. In the Guard, she was assigned to a unit based near Washington that is known as the "Capital Guardians," because one of their primary missions is defending the city. Security forces in the squadron regularly train with riot shields and clubs for what the Air Force calls "civil disturbance missions." She was deployed twice more, to the United Arab Emirates in 2012 and 2014, according to an Air Force spokeswoman.