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Rep. Jayapal ‘stuck in the gallery’ above House floor as group tried to breach entry

Members of Congress evacuate the House Chamber as protesters attempt to enter during a joint session of Congress on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Washington Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal was in the House Chambers when an unruly group of demonstrators forced their way inside the U.S. Capitol building Wednesday.

Washington lawmakers react to storming of US Capitol

Jayapal says she and a dozen other Representatives waited on the ground in the bleachers of the gallery above the House floor after being told to shelter in place. Capitol police started taking out all of the members on the main floor first, but weren’t immediately able to get to the gallery.

“When we realized that there was a threat was when Capitol police came in, removed Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and some others,” she said.

“They weren’t able to get to us, and so we ended up essentially stuck in the gallery. We were instructed to pull out gas masks because tear gas was being dispensed. Those gas masks were all under the seats where we were sitting,” she continued. “And then we were instructed to get onto the floor because protesters were starting to try to breach the entry to the floor, which the doors had been shut and barricaded.”

At that point, she says Capitol police were the only ones left on the main floor, and the remaining representatives were up in the gallery where she was sheltering in place.

Capitol police with guns drawn eventually reached them and helped them evacuate when it was safe.

During the melee, she tweeted, “I can’t contain my rage at Donald Trump and Republicans who invited, incited, and fueled this terror. Our country and our democracy will have to recover from these deep wounds — and it won’t be easy.”

Jayapal was evacuated to an undisclosed location where she made the call to local reporters to share this account. The congresswoman says lawmakers do hope to finish counting and certifying the Electoral College votes Wednesday.

The KIRO Radio Newsdesk contributed to this report.

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