The husband of Ashli Babbit, the 35-year-old Donald Trump supporter who was shot dead while attempting to storm the US Capitol on Wednesday, has praised her as a “great patriot”.
Ms Babbit, a 14-year veteran of the US Air Force from San Diego, California, has been identified as the woman seen being hit by a bullet as she joined a group of rioters attempting to break into the legislative complex via a broken window in a video that went viral on Twitter overnight.
She was shot by a plainclothes officer after trying to enter the House chamber, Washington police chief Robert Contee said, adding that the shooting is being probed by the force’s internal affairs unit, as is standard procedure for any death involving an officer.
Ms Babbit, who was treated at the scene before dying in hospital, was one of four people to lose their lives in Wednesday’s unrest in DC, which began when supporters of Mr Trump broke through police barricades and sought to block Congress from formally certifying his November election defeat.
Local San Diego news organisation KUSI spoke with the deceased’s woman’s husband, Aaron Babbit, who confirmed her identity and described her as “a great patriot to all who knew her”.
The pair reportedly ran a swimming pool maintenance business together in Spring Valley, California.
The San Diego Union-Tribune meanwhile spoke to Babbit’s ex-husband, Timothy McEntee, a fellow Air Force veteran who was married to her from April 2005 until May 2019 and who called her “a wonderful woman with a big heart and a strong mind”.
“I am in a state of shock and feel absolutely terrible for her family,” Mr McEntee said in an email. “She loved America with all her heart. It’s truly a sad day.”
Ms Babbit’s mother-in-law, Robin Babbit, expressed bafflement over her decision to attend Mr Trump’s Stop the Steal rally, saying in an interview with Fox 5 DC: “I really don’t know why she decided to do this.”
A social media account that appears to have belonged to Ms Babbit featured numerous posts pledging allegiance to Mr Trump and to the QAnon conspiracy theory, including one of her posing with a friend in a “We are Q” T-shirt in front of a harbour, apparently at a boat parade in support of Mr Trump’s re-election.
On Tuesday morning, she tweeted: “Nothing will stop us….they can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours….dark to light!”
Left-wing activist John Sullivan, who filmed the incident in which Ms Babbit was involved, gave an eyewitness account to CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday evening.
“All we see is these guns coming out of the doorway, just guns, and all you can see is their hands. You could not see faces,” he said.
“Right when I saw that I was yelling to people: ‘Guys, there are guns, you don’t want to go through there. They’re going to shoot’.”
Mr Sullivan said Babbit ignored his plea and advanced.
“The second that she climbed through the window, she got shot right in the neck area and fell backwards,” he said.
“I just remember, like, the sense of shock and sorrow that somebody just died and did not need to die because she didn’t have a weapon and she was not violent.”