WASHINGTON — A man charged in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot has been jailed pending trial after allegedly recruiting members to the Texas Three Percenters by telling them that he had created a new security business to circumvent gun laws and obtain high-grade weapons and ammunition available to law enforcement.
Guy Reffitt, 48, of Wylie, Texas, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to three charges of obstructing an official proceeding, trespassing and witness tampering after prosecutors say he was hit by police rubber bullets and chemical spray while allegedly storming the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Prosecutors also say he threatened his teenage children not to turn him in after he returned from Washington.
U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich of the District of Columbia set a hearing for April 19.
On Monday, U.S. Magistrate Zia Faruqui said that it was not Reffitt’s statements to his family that prompted his detention order but that the government’s allegations that he appeared with body armor, a helmet, firearm and plastic restraints on Capitol grounds. The judge said Reffitt appeared to have planned for violence before and after the event in encrypted communications with other members of the right-wing anti-government Three Percenters, for which he said he conducts vetting and intelligence.
“I have a new security business to circumvent the 2nd Amendment issue,” Reffitt told two recruits on Jan. 9 through encrypted chat, prosecutors said in court papers and a teleconference hearing.
He named his company TPP Security Services in the chat, prosecutors said.
“We can get ammo and weapons available to law enforcement … The fight has only just begun,” Reffitt allegedly wrote, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nestler.
Reffitt allegedly directed other members to destroy evidence, to be ready for future violence and to kept an unregistered silencer in a safe, the prosecutor said, writing on Jan 13, “This has only just begun and will not end until we The People of The Republic have won our country back. We had thousands of weapons and fired no rounds yet showed numbers. The next time we will not be so cordial.”
Defense attorney William Welch requested that Reffitt be released under strict conditions. Reffitt’s wife, his 16-year-old daughter and her boyfriend testified on his behalf. They said that while Reffitt warned them and his 18-year-old son that “Traitors get shot” and that he would “put a bullet through” his daughter’s phone, they never felt personally threatened because they knew he was being dramatic and is not violent.
“Sometimes words can have disastrous consequences, but sometimes words are just words,” Welch said. “And sometimes they are inappropriate, they are offensive, they are across the line, but it still does not mean that they are an actual threat.
“No firearms were ever used,” he added.
Reffitt has been in custody since Jan. 19 and was hospitalized in intensive care for three days because he was not given prescribed medication, Welch noted.
“Guy’s family, whom the government claims to be protecting, could not even find out anything about where he was or whether he was okay,” Welch argued in a court filing. “Not only do they still care, but they still love Guy.”
Faruqui praised the family’s testimony and acknowledged the burden of Reffitt’s jailing. But Faruqui said Reffitt’s preparations for a fight, travel to Washington with an AR-15 rifle and a handgun, and discussion of plans to march “with heat” to disrupt lawmakers who remain under National Guard protection indicated that the danger posed to the community remains.
“I admire your daughter’s wisdom, that people can have different political views, and we still have to deal with each other as family, and frankly, we are an American family,” Faruqui said. “And my heart is broken. I see your family suffering, I see American families suffering.”
“But the law dictates I have to decide the facts and follow the law here … Even after the horror and tragedy of Jan. 6, he still recruited people and tried to get them to join his militia and join its stated mission” of overturning government by force, Faruqui said.
He ended by saying, “Here is someone who came armed and ready for battle, and for those reasons I conclude there is evidence that he would yet do that again, pose a danger to the community.”