"There was nowhere for us to go, every door was blocked with people trying to do us harm."
Days after pro-Trump supporters stormed into the U.S. Capitol, Rep. Norma Torres recounted her experience being trapped inside the House Chamber to FOX 11's Elex Michaelson.
Torres said she expected tensions to be high on Wednesday as Congress debated the certification of the 2020 Presidential election, but that it eventually became a "surreal moment" that she’ll never forget.
"It was a horrific experience," the Pomona Democrat said. "Most of the doors were locked, except one, which was above me, because the officer that was present did not have the keys."
As protestors began to breach the Capitol, Torres and some dozen lawmakers were seated in the Chamber balcony, socially distanced from their colleagues on the House floor below.
"Ultimately, he ended up barricading that door with a piece of furniture, as he did that, we heard the gunshot, he told us to hit the ground," she continued, noting that colleagues like Jason Crow (D-Colo.), a former U.S. Army ranger, further helped to ensure those in the balcony were secure.
"After that he told us to put on a mask, which at that moment, there was so much going on, that I was yelling back, saying ‘I have my mask on,’ I was thinking, foolishly thinking, about my COVID-19 mask, he was referencing a gas mask that we needed to put on, because tear gas had been deployed right outside of the chamber," Torres recalled.
Torres said she never came "eye-to-eye" with any of the protestors, but that the situation brought back memories of her childhood in Guatemala, where after being shot at during the nation’s civil war, her family sent her to the United States.
"It seems incredible, but here we are, in the United States of America, within the compounds, and safety and security, of the US Capitol, to have to go through something even worse than that experience because this wasn’t one person shooting at us, this was an angry mob who were ready to do us harm."
Now, as the House of Representatives prepares new articles of Impeachment for President Trump, Torres placed the blame for Wednesday’s events squarely at his feet, as a culmination of years of rhetoric and actions filled with "hate" and "racism."
"President Trump is a traitor," Torres said, referring to him as an "American Bully."
"And every single one of the people who has not stood up to him, continues to be a traitor to our country," she added.
In a wide-ranging interview on The Issue Is, Torres also discussed her desire for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, and the ongoing fight against coronavirus.
The Issue Is is California's only statewide political show. Watch FOX 11 Los Angeles Fridays at 10:30 p.m. and Sundays at 9 a.m. For more showtimes and information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.