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Photos: “I recall thinking to myself, this is how I’m going to die,” January 6th hearings begin

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WASHINGTON —Four Capitol and Metropolitan Police Department officers on Tuesday recounted their experience fighting off the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol during the first hearing of a new House committee investigating the attack.

“I recall thinking to myself, this is how I’m going to die, defending this entrance,” Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell said. “I could have lost my life that day, not once, but many times.”

Dressed in uniforms, the officers struggled at times to deliver the emotional testimony and graphic descriptions.

US Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn becomes emotional, before members of the Select Committee investigate the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol, during their first hearing in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

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(CHIP SOMODEVILLA/POOL PHOTO)

At one point during a video presentation, Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone placed his hand on Gonell’s shoulder and whispered in his ear. Others dabbed their eyes with tissues, cleared their throats repeatedly and paused to drink water throughout their testimony.

Gonell said he was more scared on Jan. 6 than he was during his Army tour of duty in Iraq. He said when he arrived home at 4 a.m. on Jan. 7, he could not even hug his wife because his uniform was so soaked in chemical irritants he had been sprayed with.

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Less than four hours later he was back at work. He faces multiple surgeries from injuries to his shoulder, legs and feet, and at least a year of rehabilitation.

Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges testifies during the opening hearing

Metropolitan Police Department Officer Daniel Hodges testifies during the opening hearing of the U.S. House Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

( Jim Bourg / Pool Photo)

Tuesday’s hearing, which was meant to set the tone for what is expected to be a months-long investigation, focused primarily on the officers and what they experienced fighting off the melee for several hours. Some Republicans, including former President Trump, have sought to downplay the event as a largely peaceful protest that got out of control.

US Capitol Police, Michael Fanone testifies during the Select Committee investigation of the January 6, 2021 attack

US Capitol Police, Michael Fanone testifies during the Select Committee investigation of the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, during their first hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

(ANDREW HARNIK/POOL PHOTO)

US Capitol Police officer Sgt. Aquilino Gonell reacts during the Select Committee investigation of the January 6, 2021

US Capitol Police officer Sgt. Aquilino Gonell reacts during the Select Committee investigation of the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, during their first hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

(ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/POOL PHOTO)

Aquilino Gonell, sergeant of the U.S. Capitol Police, Michael Fanone, officer for the Metropolitan Police Department

Aquilino Gonell, sergeant of the U.S. Capitol Police, Michael Fanone, officer for the Metropolitan Police Department, and Harry Dunn, private first class of the U.S. Capitol Police, listen while Daniel Hodges, officer for the Metropolitan Police Department, testifies during a hearing of the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

(Brendan Smialowski / Pool Photo)

A person reacts as he watches a video from January 6 during a hearing by the House Select Committee investigating

A person reacts as he watches a video from January 6 during a hearing by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

(Oliver Contreras / Pool Photo)

US Representative Adam Kinzinger becomes emotional as he questions witnesses during the Select Committee investigation

US Representative Adam Kinzinger becomes emotional as he questions witnesses during the Select Committee investigation of the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

(OLIVER CONTRERAS/POOL PHOTO)

Metropolitan Police Department officer Michael Fanone and Metropolitan Police Department officer Daniel Hodges arrive

Metropolitan Police Department officer Michael Fanone and Metropolitan Police Department officer Daniel Hodges arrive to testify before the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

( Andrew Harnik-Pool/Photo)

Aquilino Gonell, sergeant of the US Capitol Police, pauses after making his opening statement

Aquilino Gonell, sergeant of the US Capitol Police, pauses after making his opening statement during the Select Committee investigation of the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.

(BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/POOL PHOTO)

Members of law enforcement leave following testimony during the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack

Members of law enforcement leave following testimony during the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol.

(BILL O’LEARY/POOL PHOTO)

Metropolitan Police Department Officer Michael Fanone is embraced by U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn

Metropolitan Police Department Officer Michael Fanone is embraced by U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn following the opening hearing of the U.S. House Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

(Jim Bourg / Pool Photo)

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) (R) embraces Sgt. Aquilino Gonell of the US Capitol Police after the House Select Committee

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) (R) embraces Sgt. Aquilino Gonell of the US Capitol Police after the House Select Committee hearing investigating the January 6 attack on US Capitol.

( Jim Lo Scalzo / Pool Photo)

Aquilino Gonell, sergeant of the U.S. Capitol Police, Michael Fanone, officer for the Metropolitan Police Department,

Aquilino Gonell, sergeant of the U.S. Capitol Police, Michael Fanone, officer for the Metropolitan Police Department, and Daniel Hodges, officer for the Metropolitan Police Department, are greeted by committee members Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) before a hearing of the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

(Brendan Smialowski / Pool Photo)

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