Two days after the Capitol riot on January 6, Jackson Reffitt’s father, Guy W. Reffitt, returned to the family home in Texas. He told his son he stormed the Capitol, according to an FBI affidavit.
Then his father launched a threat: If Jackson, 18, reported him to the police, he would have no choice but to do his “duty” for his country and “do what he had to do. “.
In interviews with investigators, Jackson Reffitt said his father told him, “If you report me, you are a traitor. And you know what happens to traitors. The traitors get shot.
But he had already reported his father to the FBI weeks before the riot.
“He always told me he was going to do something big,” young Mr Reffitt said in a telephone interview on Saturday. “I assumed he was going to do something big, and I didn’t know what.
Guy Reffitt’s wife told investigators after the riot that he was a member of the Three Percenters, a far-right militia, according to the affidavit.
FBI agents found an AR-15 rifle and pistol in his home. The eldest, Mr Reffitt, told investigators he brought the gun with him to Washington.
Jackson Reffitt said he learned his father was heading to Washington the day before the riot but didn’t know what he would do there. He found out what was going on when he saw footage of rioters storming the Capitol on the news.
It was not clear what the Federal Bureau of Investigation did after Mr. Reffitt first contacted the FBI about his father. Federal investigators contacted him during the riots to follow up on his advice weeks earlier, at which point, he said, he helped “prove what they were trying to investigate.”
Mr Reffitt said he “just wanted someone to know” of his father’s threats to “do something big”.
“I didn’t know what he was going to do, so I did everything I could just to be on the safe side,” he added.
The elder Mr Reffitt, who was arrested on January 16, faces charges of obstructing justice and knowingly entering a building or restricted land without legal permission. He could not be reached on Sunday and it was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer. The FBI was not immediately available for comment on Sunday.
Mr Reffitt said he was not sure if his father still knew he reported him to federal authorities.
“I’m afraid for him to know,” he said. “Not for my life or anything, but for what he might think.” But he said he hoped his relationship with his father could be mended.
“We will improve over time,” he says. “I know we will.”
He said his mother and two sisters “had no idea what I had done” until they saw a CNN interview he did with Chris Cuomo.
After the interview gained traction online, Mr Reffitt said on Twitter, “Yes, I am the child on cnn.”
The tweet garnered thousands of likes and retweets, and he said he was inundated with messages asking him to create a GoFundMe, which he did.
“Every penny is another course in college or I’ll keep it for years to come,” he wrote on the crowdfunding platform. “I could be kicked out of my home because of my involvement in my father’s case, so every penny could help me survive.
Mr. Reffitt was not staying with his family and declined to say where he was out of fear for his safety. He was using his girlfriend’s phone because his family had disconnected his, he said.
He said he posted the GoFundMe page shortly before bed on Friday, expecting a few thousand dollars to be raised. When he woke up on Saturday, the page had raised over $ 20,000.
As of Sunday afternoon, more than 1,800 donations had been pledged, or more than $ 58,000.
Mr. Reffitt is in his first semester studying political science at Collin College, a community college near his family’s home in Wylie, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. When asked if the money would cover the rest of his undergraduate education, he replied, “Oh man you have no idea. I’m going to college now.
As for others who are wondering if they should come forward about someone they think might be involved in something dangerous, “you are not only protecting yourself, but you are also protecting her,” he said. -he declares.
“I put my emotions behind me to do what I thought was right,” Mr. Reffitt said of his father. And while he doesn’t regret his decision, he said, “He’s still family, and it‘s still weird.”