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WATCH NOW: Democracy Divided: Stories of the Capitol riot

Through new footage and never-before-seen interviews with those who were there, WUSA9 looks back at the January 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol.

Eric Flack, Jordan Fischer, Stephanie Wilson

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Published: 11:17 AM EST December 19, 2021
Updated: 2:23 PM EST December 19, 2021

Before Sharon Nichols headed into the U.S. Capitol on January 6, she received a text message asking if she was worried. The president had called tens of thousands of people to D.C. for a rally promoting unfounded claims of election fraud. He’d promised it would be “wild.”

“And I said, ‘No,’” Nichols remembers. “I thought that coming into the Capitol would be the safest place.”

Nichols, like other Hill staffers, was mostly working from home. But she needed to come in that day to get her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. On her way to the vaccine clinic at the Rayburn House Office Building, Nichols could tell something was wrong.

“I could hear Capitol Police officers kind of in distress, yelling at each other back and forth,” she said. “I’m sure it was, you know, send help over here or there. This crowd is big, or we need backup at that location.”

WATCH NOW | DEMOCRACY DIVIDED: Stories of the Capitol Riot

Credit: WUSA
Capitol Hill staffer Sharon Nichols recalls being terrified as she hid for hours in her office in the Rayburn House Office Building.

When she got to Rayburn, an officer told her she should probably go home. But it was her first opportunity to get the COVID-19 vaccine after a year of hell wrought by the pandemic.

“We’d come off a year of this pandemic that had killed hundreds of thousands of people already, and there was finally light at the end of the tunnel,” Nichols said. She decided to get her first dose.

Before she could leave the clinic, however, the U.S. Capitol Police Department sent out its first alert locking down all Capitol office buildings – including the one where Nichols was getting her shot. No one would be allowed in or out.

“They sent me back to my office and said, yeah, we probably aren’t going to be able to leave this place for a while,” Nichols remembered.

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