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FBI official: No shots fired by rioters, no firearms recovered during siege on U.S. Capitol

Senators on Wednesday commenced a second joint oversight hearing on the breach of the Capitol building. 

Published: March 2, 2021 6:23pm

Updated: March 3, 2021 1:33pm

No firearms were recovered on the U.S. Capitol grounds on Jan. 6 during the riot, and no shots were fired by the demonstrators, an FBI official on Wednesday told Congress.

"To my knowledge we have not recovered any [firearms] on that day from any of the arrests at the scene at this point," said Jill Sanborn, assistant director of the FBI's Counterterrorism Division. "No one has been charged with a firearms violation."

Sanborn made her comments during a joint oversight hearing in the Senate to examine the breach of the U.S. Capitol. In addition to Sanborn, witnesses included the commander of the Washington, D.C. National Guard, and civilian officials from the Pentagon. 

During testimony, Sanborn responded to questions from Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who asked whether firearms were present or used during the siege.

"How many shots were fired that we know of?" Johnson asked.

"The only shots fired were the ones that resulted in the death of the one lady," Sanborn said, referencing Ashli Babbitt, a protester who was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer during heightened tension inside the building.

Other testimony examined the timeline of when the National Guard was dispatched to help an overwhelmed civilian police force during the siege on the Capitol.

The National Guard was dispatched to the riot more than three hours after Capitol Police made a desperate call for help with a "dire emergency," a two-star general testified Wednesday before Congress.

Major Gen. William Walker, who commands the District of Columbia National Guard, told senators that the 1:49 p.m. call for help from the guard on Jan. 6 was approved in a message that reached him after 5 p.m. At that point, troops who were waiting on buses sped to the Capitol, and helped to secure a perimeter, Walker said.

Walker made his comments during a hearing to examine the breach of the U.S. Capitol. In addition to Walker, civilian officials from the Pentagon and the FBI are scheduled to testify. 

Walker told senators he was "sickened by the physical and mental harm" that came to civilian police who responded to the riot.

The hearing comes one day after FBI Director Chris Wray appeared before members the Senate Judiciary Committee to address his agency's investigative efforts regarding the Jan. 6 incident.

The Wednesday session marks the second joint oversight hearing in the Senate between the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Committee on Rules and Administration to examine security and intelligence failures that led to the breach. 

"The committees are seeking testimony from federal national security and counterterrorism agencies on their roles in intelligence gathering, security preparations and the response to the attack on the U.S Capitol," committee officials wrote in a joint statement.

Other witnesses include Robert Salesses, from the Department of Defense; and Melissa Smislova, from the Department of Homeland Security.

The Washington, D.C. National Guard's commander, Maj. Gen. William Walker, was not on the original witness list, but was added on Monday to the roster.

Officials have said that the congressional investigation into the Jan. 6 breach could span more than a year. A previous joint hearing brought in current and former officials who were responsible Jan. 6 for securing the Capitol.

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