During his Congressional testimony Tuesday, June 27, Sgt. Aquilino Gonell shared his harrowing experience on January 6 when supporters of then-president Donald Trump infiltrated the U.S. Capitol.
Gonell, who immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic in 1992 and is a U.S. Army veteran, was one of four Capitol officers called in as a witness in the investigation of the Capitol attack.
“It is with honor and heavy heart that I come before you to tell you my story from a painful, first-hand experience [of] what happened that terrible day at the Capitol,” Gonell said at the start of his testimony.
Gonell said he hoped that all those responsible for the violence that day are held accountable for their actions so that the “horrific and shameful event” never happens again. During the attack, Gonell was beaten with a flagpole and sprayed with chemicals by the mob, who were inside the Capitol attempting to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.
Even with “overwhelming evidence,” Gonell said he is stunned that there is an “attempt to ignore or try to destroy the truth of what truly happened that day.” He wants everyone to know that it was “an attack on our democracy by violent, domestic extremists and a stain on our history and our moral standing here and abroad.”
Emotions ran deep for Gonell as he spoke about his love for the United States and his pursuit of the American Dream. “This country gave me the opportunity to become anything that I wanted,” he said.
He then described the verbal and physical abuse he endured as the insurrectionists forced their way inside the Capitol. “While I was…working with my fellow officers to prevent the breach and restore order, the rioters called me traitor…and shouted that I…should be executed,” Gonell said. “The rioters were vicious and relentless. We found ourselves in a violent battle.”
Watch Gonell’s full testimony below: