Former Texas member of the Three Percenter militia recounts the road trip to the January 6 riots

WASHINGTON — In early January 2021, Rocky Hardy and Guy Reffitt drove the roughly 20 hours from North Texas to DC in a van loaded with assault rifles, ammunition and handguns, talking family and politics and harassing the leader of their far-right far-right group along the way.

“We kind of complained about our boss, because he’s over there like, ‘I’m going to sort out the sock drawer,’ when he’s telling everyone to go to DC,” Hardy said. about Russ Teer, the leader of the Texas Three Percenters group. to which he and Reffitt belonged. “He’s sitting at home with his family where it’s nice and comfortable, and we’re committed to standing tall and being counted.”

On the long drive to DC for former President Donald Trump’s Stop the Steal rally, Hardy said the two joked about dragging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi out of the Capitol “by the feet or ankles,” imagining his head bumping every step as he exited. .

“We talked about ‘We gotta get the bastards out of there,'” Hardy said.

But Hardy said he never took anything seriously until Jan. 6, when Reffitt tried to storm the Capitol in an accusation that Reffitt has since bragged about “starting the fire.” of the riot.

“I didn’t think he or anyone was going to come near the Capitol. I thought it was impossible,” Hardy said. “I was quite impressed that he did what he did. He had more guts than me. I wasn’t going to get up there.

Hardy detailed the multi-day road trip across the country in his testimony Friday against his former Three Percenter mate, the first defendant to stand trial by jury for his involvement in the riot. Reffitt, 49, of Wylie, faces five counts, including transporting firearms for unlawful use during a riot and trespassing on Capitol grounds while armed with the handgun in its holster.

Hardy, who said he left the Three Percenters after the FBI began asking about the trip, testified under an immunity agreement with the government. Wearing black-rimmed glasses and a black suit and tie, Hardy testified carefully, frequently asking for questions to be repeated or clarified, sometimes pausing to think about his answers, saying he was trying to get a picture. in his mind.

Reffitt watched calmly, taking notes on a yellow notepad, dressed in a black suit and no tie, his hair pulled back in a ponytail.

Hardy said he had met Reffitt a few times before the trip, including at Three Percenters meetings at Reffitt’s home in Wylie and at Hardy’s warehouse near Austin. The two have known each other mainly by phone and via Telegram, a messaging app used by the group to communicate.

Hardy said they agreed on a lot of things. They felt like Pelosi was “evil personified” and they loved Trump and “what he stood for.” They both believed the 2020 election was stolen and talked about “how far can you let things go before you have to take action to protect your country”.

He said he respected Reffitt because he sounded like someone who was more than just gossip.

“In life, most people talk, but they don’t,” Hardy said. “He kind of seems like a person who actually does things.”

So when he read a post from Reffitt about Jan. 6 calling for “true blood warriors” to come to DC to “stand up and be counted,” Hardy was all for it.

Loading on January 6

Hardy made the 223-mile trip from Austin to Wylie, where he and Reffitt disassembled their ARs – Hardy recalls being embarrassed as he asked for help with his, saying he forgot how – loaded the van with ammunition and other equipment and drove off.

Hardy said the two took up arms, even though they knew they weren’t licensed in DC and neither was allowed to carry handguns in the district. But they had decided it was worth the risk to defend themselves in case things got heated. Hardy said he joined the Three Percenters after seeing videos of Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 and feared antifa were at the rallies in DC

“I think we used an expression, it’s better to be tried by a jury of 12 than carried by six,” Hardy testified. “If you break a handgun law, you will probably go to jail and at some point you will get out. But if you die, you won’t come back.

Hardy said they left the guns in the van when they arrived at their four-star hotel in Georgetown, an upscale Washington neighborhood. The jury saw a selfie Hardy said he took of the two smiling in their hotel room, with Hardy carrying his empty gun holster.

The next morning, as they prepared to leave, Hardy testified that Reffitt gave him zip ties, “real big fat ones that you use as handcuffs.”

“I said, ‘What are they for? ‘” Hardy recalled. “He said, ‘Well, in case we need to detain somebody,’ or something like that.”

They went to the car and pulled up the ARs, in case “something bad happened and we needed it fast”. They left them in the car, but loaded their handguns, Hardy carrying his in his shoulder holster with two extra magazines and Reffitt stowing his on his hip.

Hardy said Reffitt donned a helmet and body armor. He gave Hardy two American flags and carried a megaphone. The two carried radios to communicate throughout the day, giving each other call names. Hardy was Oscar, Reffitt was Tango.

They attended Trump’s rally, then marched to the Capitol, where Hardy recalled seeing people clambering up scaffolding like “spiders crawling up the walls.”

“I said, Wow, these people really do,” he said.

The two were eventually separated and Hardy was not with Reffitt when he attempted to storm the Capitol, although he said Reffitt told him at some point on the radio that he was going to try. to get inside. Hardy said he got close enough to touch the Capitol, but never entered it.

It wasn’t until the pair reunited in their hotel room that he learned of Reffitt’s failed charge – how he was shot several times with clay bullets, but never was undeterred until a large explosion of pepper spray stopped him in his tracks.

Hardy said Reffitt was “red all over his body” from the spray. He took a photo of Reffitt’s legs, shown to the jury, where multiple circular welts showed where he had been hit by the clay bullets.

“We kind of bragged,” Hardy recalled of the conversation in the hotel room.

“I was a little excited and a little fascinated,” he said. “I had this experience which was like a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I felt like it was kind of historically significant – I actually showed up.”

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