The FBI has arrested a Wylie man who is accused of threatening to kill his own family members if they turned him in for participating in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Guy Reffitt was arrested Saturday and the FBI found two firearms in his house which he allegedly took with him to Washington. He is charged with unlawful entry for being at the U.S. Capitol and obstruction of justice for threatening his family to prevent them from talking.
According to a criminal complaint, Reffitt is a member of a militia extremist group and told his family he went to the Capitol to “protect the country.”
The FBI complaint included seven still photographs taken from Reuters video and broadcast on FOX News that investigators said showed Reffitt outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 flushing his eyes with water while wearing a tactical vest and a black helmet. Investigators said they compared those photos with his Texas driver's license photo to verify his identity.
Data from his cell phone also confirmed he was at the Capitol when a mob rioted, the FBI said.
According to the FBI complaint, Reffitt posted a comment on the website of “Texas Freedom Force, a militia extremist group," in October using the same cell phone number.
Brandon Burkhart, the president of "This is Texas Freedom Force," said Reffitt signed up to join the group in June 2020 but didn't go to any meetings or rallies.
Burkhart also disputed the FBI's characterization of the group.
"We are not a militia," he said.
While searching Reffitt's Wylie home Saturday, agents said they interviewed Reffitt’s wife, son and daughter.
The complaint gave the following account of what family members told agents:
On Jan. 8, Reffitt and another man returned to their home in Wylie. He told family members he went to Washington to “protect the country” and “stormed the Capitol.”
On Jan. 11, Reffitt told family members he had to “erase everything” because the FBI was “watching him.”
He told his son if he “crossed the line” and reported him to the police, he would have to “do what he had to do.”
“Are you threatening us?” the son said, according to the complaint.
“Don’t put words in my mouth,” he answered.
The son took his comments as a threat to kill him, the FBI said.
Reffitt also threatened to “put a bullet” through his daughter’s cell phone if she recorded him.
His wife quoted him as saying, “If you turn me in, you’re a traitor and you know what happens to traitors. Traitors get shot.”
Agents said Reffitt admitted he went to the Capitol on Jan. 6 but claimed he did not go inside.
Reffitt was arrested Jan. 15 and charged with obstruction of justice for the threats made against his family on Jan. 11 where the FBI said he threatened to use physical force to "hinder, delay or prevent the communication to a law enforcement officer information related to the commission or possible commission of a federal crime." Reffitt remained in custody Monday and will likely appear before a judge in Sherman Tuesday.
In a phone interview Monday, Reffitt's 18-year-old son Jackson said his father, who worked in the oil business and has been trying to start a private security company, became increasingly obsessed with politics over the four years of the Trump administration and joined a far-right militia group known as the "three percenters."
"They're pretty out there," Jackson Reffitt said.
He said his father believed Trump's false claims that the election was rigged.
"I love him, but I hate him," the son said of his relationship with his father.
Jackson Reffitt, a 2020 Wylie High School graduate who described himself as liberal and said he starts college Tuesday, blamed Trump for pushing his father to the far right.
"I say he's (Trump) just manipulated even my own family members," he said. "Obviously, I don't like his methods."
Asked if he believed his father is dangerous, Jackson Reffitt said he didn't think so but added, "I don't really know him anymore."
Reffitt is the fourth person arrested in North Texas by the FBI in connection with the Jan. 6 uprising. The other three named publicly are Jenna Ryan, Troy Smocks and Larry Brock.
[via NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth]