Local men describe firsthand experiences of riot at US Capitol

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Anthony Cimino, of Wynnewood, Montgomery County, shot a video with his cellphone after climbing scaffolding to get to a balcony on the U.S. Capitol, watching as tear gas and flashbangs were deployed.

"They were using battering rams and they had this big ladder and they were trying to break the door down," he said. "Trump made it sound like that everybody would be at the Capitol, to show solidarity. It went very over the top. I thought it was just going to be people standing there yelling, waiting for the outcome of the vote."

Cimino says he went to Washington D.C. on Wednesday to see President Donald Trump, as he has with five former sitting presidents, there to take everything in as a witness.

"When they first broke in, you don't know what's going on, 'Are they coming with guns?' I would fear for my life if all of a sudden I heard mobs of people broke in," he said.

After being teargassed multiple times, Cimino says he left freely, to go back home.

Leonard Guthrie, of Cape May, New Jersey, also traveled to the capital on Wednesday. He was arrested and charged with unlawful entry but says he did not go inside the Capitol building.

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National Geographic photographer Louie Palu documents the siege inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6.

"I crossed the line. I didn't comply, and I was arrested. That happened at 1:50," said Guthrie.

Since his arrest was made available in public records, he's been facing a backlash.

"I was getting death threats, just ridiculous stuff," says Guthrie who identified himself as a street preacher. "This was about the people's voice and bringing God and having the opportunity to do something we've never done before and we got robbed of that."

Guthrie says things got out of hand but doesn't rule out agitators infiltrating the mob of pro-Trump supporters.

"I don't know if it was Trump supporters, instigators, I don't know. Hopefully, the truth comes out," said Guthrie.

Three people died from medical emergencies during the melee.

Rioter and former Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, 35, was fatally shot inside the Capitol.

Capitol Officer Brian Sicknick, 42, died following the riot.

"Nobody should have died. Nobody should have gotten hurt. Nobody should have been in there," said Guthrie, "That broke my heart and I cried. I'm somebody that will mourn for every fallen officer."

In Allentown, Pennsylvania, a middle school teacher has been "relieved of his duties" as the school district investigates his actions at the Capitol on Wednesday.

There's now a Facebook group in support of the teacher at the center of the school district's investigation.

Here is the full statement from Allentown School District:

Dear Allentown Families, Staff & Community:

On January 7, 2021, the Allentown School District (ASD) was made aware of a staff member who was involved in the electoral college protest that took place at the United States Capitol Building on January 6, 2021.

We understand that many members of our community are upset by the image. At the same time, the district has an obligation to respect the First Amendment rights of our staff and students.

Because of the emotion and controversy stirred by the events of January 6, 2021, the teacher has been temporarily relieved of his teaching duties until the School District can complete a formal investigation of his involvement.

The chaos that took place in the nation's capital yesterday was deeply troubling and acknowledge that these actions have caused immense pain in our community. It occurred at a time when we are already grappling with the impacts of a global pandemic that has affected the health and livelihood of families throughout our community. Yesterday's events have added to the confusion and uncertainty our students are experiencing during this unprecedented time.

To that end, we are reminding our staff to think carefully about what they share online and how it could affect their students and fellow community members. While we all have the right to express ourselves, it is important to do so respectfully. We ask the same of our students and families.

We will continue to work to address the academic, social, and emotional needs of our students during this challenging time. Thank you for your support in creating a safe, equitable, and inclusive environment for students to raise questions and develop a diversity of perspectives about our community, our nation, and the world in which we live.

Please know that our educators, counselors, and administrators are here to support your student. Contact your child's school or reach out to district staff using the Let's Talk feature of our website if you have additional concerns.


Mr. Thomas Parker, Superintendent

Allentown School District
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