Family torn apart as they speak to investigators about father's participation in Capitol riot

“My heart is broken. I see people in your family suffering. I see an American family suffering,” Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui said at the hearing in Washington on Monday about how politics — and the Capitol riot — has divided American families.
During the almost two-hour hearing, the daughter’s testimony about her father, Guy Reffitt, a Texas Three Percenter, became one of the most searing examples of how close family and friends have aided investigators with the dragnet following the insurrection. The daughter said she didn’t believe her father was dangerous if he were to be released, but thought he had tried to intimidate her and her brother after January 6 as he had discussed keeping his participation quiet.

Reffitt’s defense lawyer argued for his release, downplaying his words about violence as just talk.

Faruqui decided to keep Reffitt detained in jail pending trial.

The judge’s decision elicited a wail from the family household on the court’s conference call line. Reffitt’s wife, daughter and daughter’s boyfriend had gathered for the hearing on the line, with the daughter’s boyfriend also having testified in court Monday.

“[It] isn’t an easy thing to say, but I think it’s what the law requires in this case. … It’s clearly caused a tremendous burden to your family,” Faruqui said at the hearing Monday.

Reffitt allegedly drove to Washington with guns in his car in the days before January 6 alongside another unnamed member of the Three Percenters extremist paramilitary group, according to the Justice Department’s court filings.

After the attack, he returned home to Texas — where he was met by his 16-year-old daughter and 18-year-old son, who disapproved of his pro-Trump politics. The trio argued, with Reffitt telling his daughter he would put a bullet through her cell phone if she posted about him on social media, according to court records and her testimony at the hearing Monday. He finally told his daughter and son that if they turned him in, they were traitors, and “traitors get shot,” his daughter testified.

The court hearing was at least the third time Reffitt’s family members had given details to authorities about him.

Reffitt’s son, Jackson Reffitt, previously discussed on CNN how he turned in his father to the FBI. The son has since left the family’s home, essentially disappearing and living in what the Justice Department calls an undisclosed location. His sister said in court on Monday that her father and brother had long had a strained relationship because of political tension.

The daughter also had testified about her father to a grand jury, according to Monday’s proceedings.

“He’s not a violent person. He just says things. He talks a lot. … That’s just him being a drama queen,” she said at the hearing. “I wasn’t in fear, I guess. It was annoying in a way.”

In the days after the attack, Guy Reffitt was taped speaking inside his home, and prosecutors now have the audio recordings, according to court filings. At home, Reffitt talked about video he had taken on January 6, bragged about and defended his part in the riot, and called it “a preface” as he pledged that he wasn’t done.

The judge said he believed Reffitt still could be a danger to the community, especially because of the firearms he kept, his statements about future violence and additional messages he sent to other Trump supporters who backed a revolt against American governance. Faruqui also noted a silencer Reffitt owned for a gun, which was found in his home.

When Reffitt and the other Three Percenter had driven to Washington in early January, he had brought with him an AR-15 rifle and a pistol, prosecutors said. Prosecutors say Reffitt, clad in body armor, carried the pistol and plastic cuff restraints as he advanced on a police line protecting the Capitol. When investigators later searched his house and found his weapons, Reffitt at first told them the gun silencer he had was a “fuel filter.”

Reffitt had also sent messages in advance about “marching with heat,” and after the riot messaged others about shifting his target toward the mainstream media and technology companies, according to the Justice Department’s court filings.

He also allegedly wrote to other Three Percenters, prosecutors say, over a messaging app about taking the Capitol “again.”

The Three Percenters extremist group has tried to make itself parallel to what members believe was a small armed group of American revolutionaries who fought the British in the Revolutionary War, prosecutors say. It is one of a handful of extremist groups active during the Trump era that federal investigators have dug into as they attempt to gain more understanding about planning and coordination before the Capitol riot.

Prosecutors also said at the hearing on Monday that a leader of the Three Percenters had been questioned and was later arrested, but they didn’t provide more details or a name.