NEW YORK — Ashli Babbit didn’t answer the last text that her husband sent her on Wednesday afternoon.
Aaron Babbit, who was watching the chaotic scene inside the Capitol building on television, was worried when he saw a woman bleeding on the floor outside the House chamber.
“I sent a text saying, ‘Hey, can I get a status check?'” Aaron Babbit told our San Diego affiliate, KSWB-TV. “I never heard back.”
Ashli Babbit, 35, was bleeding to death on the marble floor, and the road that led to her last moments began with her fervent belief in President Donald Trump — and her distaste for California politicians.
“You guys refuse to choose America!” Ashli Babbit had screamed in a Twitter video recorded inside her car in 2018. “What we do have is a massive amount of pissed-off people.”
Ashli ran a pool service company in San Diego with her second husband, Aaron.
Over the next two years, she re-tweeted a lot, even taking on the anti-mask debate during the pandemic.
And in the weeks leading up to the #StopTheSteal rally this week in Washington, she shared posts from people who believed Trump was the victim of a fraudulent election.
“This will be 1776 all over again,” tweeted one.
Ashli Babbit spent 14 years in the U.S. Air Force, where she reached the rank of senior airman.
One of her Air Force friends, Charles Breckenridge, kept in touch with her.
“She didn’t take crap from anyone,” he recalled. “She was smart. Super smart.”
But he questioned her presence among the angry mob that stormed the Capitol.
“Why was she even there?” Breckenridge asked.
Ashli Babbit had made references to the right-wing group QAnon in a number of her tweets, an organization that believes an underground cabal of pedophiles is trying to undermine the presidency.
Her tweet on Jan. 5, the day before she died, said, “Nothing will stop us…they can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours….dark to light.”
She wore a Trump banner like a cape during the last photo snapped of her at the president’s rally, before she joined the throngs flocking to the Capitol, intent on stopping Congress from the certification of electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden.
Dozens of men and women — some wearing combat gear — scaled walls and smashed windows to get inside.
“You had no metal detectors, nothing,” said former Secret Service agent Charles Marino, who now runs Sentinel Security.
When Ashli Babbit and those around her tried to climb through a smashed window leading to the House members’ gallery, Marino said that put Capitol Police on their highest alert.
“I won’t say what was going on in his mind.” Marino said of the officer who fired the single bullet at Ashli Babbit. “He was there for a reason, and that was to defend the inner perimeter of the Capitol.”
Marino said if the FBI and local police track down the rioters who tried to break into the House chambers, “This fits very neatly into the domestic terrorism statute.”
Ashli Babbit’s husband sees things differently.
“She didn’t have any weapons on her,” Aaron Babbit said. “I don’t know why she had to die in the people’s house.”
To him, she was a patriot, even in her final act.
“She loved her country and she was doing what she thought was right to support her country, joining like-minded people who love their president.”
While a nation grieves a piece of Democracy after the siege of the Capitol, Aaron Babbit mourns as well.
“I had to see the pictures of my wife dying on the news.”