Local family member of woman shot by U.S. Capitol police reacts to her death

PLAINVILLE, Mass. — A family member of the woman fatally shot by U.S. Capitol police Wednesday reacted to her death from her Plainville home.

Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old Air Force veteran from San Diego, was among the crowd of Trump supporters who breached the Capitol perimeter and stormed inside the building.

Video circulating on social media appears to show her and many others trying to break through an interior set of doors as members of Congress were hiding inside the chamber. Babbitt was shot by a Capitol police officer and later died at the hospital.

Ashli Babbitt’s husband, Aaron, grew up in North Attleboro, his cousin Justine Babbitt told Boston 25 News Thursday.

Justine said Ashli was not only her cousin-in-law but a close friend she had visited last spring in San Diego and regularly talked to. She and her cousin learned of Ashli’s death through the news and saw images on social media of her dying.

“In shock, honestly. Just to know that I can’t pick up the phone and call her. And to find out that she passed on the news last night,” Justine said in tears outside her apartment. “She had a lot of passion for this country, and she was part of something that happened yesterday that was completely and utterly tragic.”

Ashli had flown from California to Washington, D.C., in support of President Donald Trump and fed up with what she saw happening in the nation’s capital, including unfounded claims of election fraud, Justine said.

“Ashli wasn’t a thug. She wasn’t a rioter. Ashli was a peaceful person. She did 14 years in the military. She was not there to destroy the Capitol building. She was there to be heard and be part of a movement,” Justine said. “Ashli was a diehard patriot. Not a Democrat, not a Republican. She was for the people. Ashli carried around the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in her pocketbook.”

The Associated Press reported Thursday that Ashli Babbitt used Twitter to amplify her views, including false allegations that November’s election was riddled with fraud. Her social media posts often ranted against the president’s frequent targets — illegal immigration, government mandates to contain the coronavirus and, most of all, Trump’s critics, the AP reported.

While she does not condone the chaos that erupted at the Capitol, Justine said Ashli should not have lost her life. However, she is not blaming Capitol police; she is waiting to learn more information about what happened and why.

“I don’t know who’s responsible for Ashli’s death,” Justine said. “I don’t know how that took place. I don’t know how that cop responded. I don’t know. And it’s not fair for me to speculate.”

The officer involved in Ashli Babbitt’s shooting is on administrative leave pending the result of the investigation.

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