Ashli Babbitt, the woman who was shot and killed Wednesday in the riot in the halls of the U.S. Capitol, apparently by Capitol Police, was an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump and a follower and promoter of many well-known radical conservative activists as well as leaders of the QAnon conspiracy theory movement, according to her social media profiles, NBC News reports.
According to NBC News, Babbitt, 35, had come to Washington to protest Trump’s election defeat, her brother-in-law Justin Jackson told KNSD-TV, a San Diego station owned by NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News.
Babbitt was an Air Force veteran who was a decorated security forces controller and served multiple Middle East tours from 2004 to 2016, according to Air Force records. She also owned a pool service and supply business with her husband, according to her now-deleted Facebook page.
“Ashli was both loyal as well as extremely passionate about what she believed in,” Jackson said.
“She loved this country and felt honored to have served in our Armed Forces. Please keep her family in your thoughts and respect their privacy during this time.”
Washington Police Chief Robert Contee confirmed on Wednesday night that Capitol police had shot and killed a person who entered the building, but he did not name the person, NBC reports.
Though some of her family members expressed confusion about why Babbitt would break into the Capitol, her social media postings offered some insight into possible motivations.
Using the handle CommonAshSense, Babbitt’s Twitter account was almost singularly focused on radical conservative topics and conspiracy theories. Among other fringe beliefs, she tweeted about pizzagate, a viral disinformation campaign that falsely alleged a child abuse ring was being operated by Democrats from a Washington pizza restaurant.
Babbitt was a loyal Fox News watcher, according to thousands of tweets to Fox News hosts, but she also engaged on social media with the conspiracy news internet news site InfoWars.
In 2020, Babbitt began to tweet with QAnon accounts and use QAnon hashtags. QAnon conspiracy theorists subscribe to a false belief that high-profile Democrats and Hollywood celebrities are ritually sacrificing children and that Trump is fighting to stop it.
According NBC News report, QAnon followers have allegedly committed real-world violent crimes, including murder, and the F.B.I. labeled it a potential domestic terror threat in 2019.
Prominent figures in the QAnon conspiracy theory movement, including L. Lin Wood, the pro-Trump lawyer behind several failed lawsuits to overturn the election results, have also been behind many of the wildest claims, parroted by the president, that the election was somehow stolen.
Babbitt’s final tweets included a retweet of Wood, in a call that “Mike Pence@vp @Mike_Pence must resign & thereafter be charged with TREASON,” and, “Chief Justice John Roberts must RESIGN.” Wood was suspended from Twitter on Wednesday.
The day before the rally, she tweeted, “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!”
The Storm is a reference to a QAnon fantasy in which Trump will supposedly punish Democrats and Hollywood elite for their supposed misdeeds. On forums and platforms like Parler, where followers fled after being banned on Twitter and Facebook, QAnon followers claimed Babbitt’s death was faked and had been engineered as a “false flag” by the so-called Deep State.