Police Identify Woman Shot by Capitol Police as Ashli Babbitt; Officer who shot at Air Force veteran and Trump backer placed on leave amid investigation of her death during Wednesday riot
Ashli Babbitt served for more than a dozen years in the Air Force and Air National Guard, including several deployments to Iraq during the war.
More recently, in a Twitter account under her name, she retweeted thousands of tweets supporting President Trump. On Tuesday, she tweeted herself: "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!"
Her postings on social media leave clues as to how a 35-year-old military veteran turned into an angry supporter of the president.
In a recent posting, she included the hashtag #WWG1WGA, or Where We Go 1 We Go All, a slogan associated with QAnon , a far right-wing, loosely organized network and community of believers who embrace a range of unsubstantiated beliefs.
Ms. Babbitt died Wednesday after being shot by the Capitol Police , the police said, as she was part of the crowd aiming to disrupt the certification of the 2020 presidential election. Capitol Police identified Ms. Babbitt Thursday and said the officer who shot her had been placed on leave while her death is investigated.
Ms. Babbitt lived in San Diego. She and her husband owned a pool services and supply company in suburban San Diego, according to California state business records. Her husband didn't respond to phone and email messages.
Robert J. Contee III, DC Metropolitan Police chief, described the incident Wednesday. "One Capitol Police officer discharged a service weapon striking an adult female," he said. "She was transported to a local hospital where all lifesaving efforts failed. She was pronounced deceased."
Multiple videos of the shooting posted on social media show Ms. Babbitt, who appears to be wearing a Trump flag as a cape, falling from a smashed-out window after being shot by an officer on the other side of a set of double doors. The doors appear to have been barricaded to block rioters from making their way into a Congressional hallway.
In the videos, multiple police officers appear to provide first aid to Ms. Babbitt, who was taken to a hospital and later died of her injuries.
On Wednesday, Ms. Babbitt's husband told San Diego television station KUSI that she was a passionate Trump supporter. A Facebook page attributed to Ms. Babbitt says the two married in 2019.
The Storming of the U.S. Capitol
In social-media profiles in her name, Ms. Babbitt is described as a veteran and libertarian who loved her husband, her large black-and-white dog "and above all, my country."
Ms. Babbitt served in the U.S. Air Force under the name of Ashli Elizabeth McEntee, in the branch's security forces, between 2004 and 2008, according to military records. She was a senior airman, a rank of E-4, and last served at Dyess Air Force Base, near Abilene, Texas. She didn't rise to become a noncommissioned officer after years in the reserves and National Guard, according to official records.
She left active duty in April 2008 and served in the Air Force Reserve from 2008 to 2010 and then served in the Air National Guard until 2016, according to records.
During her career, she deployed overseas, including in Iraq.
It was in 2016 that Ms. Babbitt was issued the first of two peace orders, Maryland's version of a restraining order, according to court records, although they don't provide details on who requested the order. She had another restraining order filed against her in 2017, according to Maryland court records. She also was charged in Maryland that year for "willful motor vehicle damage without the owner's consent" but was found not guilty. She was charged again in 2016 with reckless endangerment, for which she was found not guilty, and malicious destruction of property, for which she was acquitted, that same year, court records show. In 2019, she had a complaint filed against her for aggressive driving that was thrown out based on a lack of jurisdiction, the court records show.
Since her death, Ms. Babbitt has been held up by many pro-Trump social-media accounts as something of a martyr. Virginia State Sen. Amanda Chase, who was at the Capitol on Wednesday, wrote in a Facebook post late Wednesday : "ASHLI BABBITT; say HER name. A veteran who was brutally murdered by Capitol Police today."
Right-wing social media influencer Rogan O'Handley, who has 1.8 million followers on Instagram, praised Ms. Babbitt. "She did not deserve to be shot and killed by Capitol police while unarmed." The post was liked more than 186,000 times.
On Twitter, an account in her name that uses the nickname "CommonAshSense," routinely retweeted supporters of Mr. Trump, including attorney L. Lin Wood. She repeatedly retweeted posts about Wednesday's rally. On Wednesday she retweeted a comment from Mr. Wood calling for Vice President Mike Pence to resign and be charged with treason. That tweet was removed by Twitter.
The account, opened in October 2016, includes retweets and comments supportive of conspiracy theories. In November 2018 she posted a pair of videos, recorded while she was driving, complaining about California politicians.
"How about we worry about what the hell you are doing. What have you done?" Ms. Babbitt said. "I'm telling you now, I'm putting you all on notice. Every one of you politicians in California."
She named Gov. Gavin Newsom, former Gov. Jerry Brown, Rep. Maxine Waters, all Democrats, and Republican former Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter.
The account also shared posts against wearing face masks to limit the spread of the coronavirus. On Dec. 9, responding to a news report of an underground party being broken up in Los Angeles, she tweeted that Covid-19 was a joke.
"You aren't a threat to anyone by simply breathing. The officers are fine but should be ashamed. COVID IS A F?ING JOKE! They will face no punishment in court... this is America not China. There are rules here about freedoms and things of that nature!" she wrote.
Jim Oberman and Deepa Seetharaman contributed to this article.
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