WASHINGTON (CN) — The son of Capitol rioter Guy Reffitt told jurors that he does not regret reporting his father to the FBI just days before the attack.
Jackson Reffitt, 19, testified on Thursday as the government’s fourth witness in its case against his father, the first of the Capitol riot cases to go to trial. The elder Reffitt is a member of the Texas Three Percenters whom police say charged at them during the riot, with a gun holstered on his waist, and later threatened his children if they turned him in to authorities.
On the stand Thursday, Jackson explained how he became increasingly concerned about his father’s anti-government rhetoric after the 2020 presidential election.
He recited a text message sent by his father days before Jan. 6, 2021, in which Guy Reffitt wrote his son: “What is about to happen will shock the world” and “We are about to rise up the way the Constitution was written.”
“Receiving these messages and reading them — my paranoia pretty much blew over,” Jackson said. “So, I decided to alleviate some anxieties off my shoulders and to Google FBI and … go forward with any information I had.”
Jackson said he felt “gross” and “uncomfortable” while submitting the tip.
“I was nervous, I didn’t know what I was doing and I just felt gross,” he said. “I don’t think I can explain it. I just felt uncomfortable. … Just to Google that and to report my father — just saying it all out is pretty … weird.”
Days after Jackson submitted the tip, he says he saw the Capitol riot unfolding on TV and “stood there in awe and disappointment, saddened and scared.”
And after the riot, Jackson says his father came home with a warning for him and his youngest daughter: “If you turn me in, you’re a traitor and you know what happens to traitors … traitors get shot,” Guy allegedly said.
Jackson said he felt “scared not only for myself, but for my sister.” And he later began recording conversations with his father about his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, and compiling other evidence out of fear that nobody would believe him.
Prosecutors showed jurors several pieces of that evidence throughout Thursday’s hearing, as well as messages with family and fellow militia members and photos and videos of the riot.
"Congress has made fatal mistakes this time. This isn’t about Trump, it’s much bigger. It’s about OUR country," Guy said in one message ahead of the riot.
In another, he said, “If they won’t follow the Laws of the Land. We have no reason to follow their laws. Try and stop thousands of armed pissed off Patriots.”
Asked if he regrets turning his father in, Jackson said, “I don’t regret it, but it’s a lot.”
“I don’t have words to really describe it,” he said. “I think this is the best case scenario.”
On cross-examination, Guy’s attorney William Welch tried to downplay his client’s comments and was able to get Jackson to confirm that his father “rants” a lot.
Welch also questioned why Jackson chose to go to the FBI instead of local police, and he said it is because his tip did not require an immediate response.
Prior to Jackson’s testimony, the government called FBI Special Agent Stacy Shahrani to the stand to testify about her analysis of Guy’s electronic devices.
Welch asked if she had any reason to believe the files shown to the jury on Thursday were “deepfakes.”
Shahrani said she had heard of the term and did not find any evidence that the files were fake.
In the coming days, prosecutors are planning to call Guy’s youngest daughter, as well as a fellow militia member who traveled with him to the Capitol during the week of the riot.
Guy has pleaded not guilty to the five charges against him: obstruction of an official proceeding, being unlawfully present on Capitol grounds while armed with a firearm, transporting firearms during a civil disorder, interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder and obstruction of justice.
He is among more than 750 people who have been charged so far in connection with the Capitol attack.Follow @EmilyZantowNews
Subscribe to Closing Arguments
Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.