“You either fight, or you run," says Rep. Tony Gonzales

By Wendy Grossman Kantor
January 12, 2021 05:14 PM
Credit: Samuel Corum/Getty

When the mob was pounding on the door to the House chambers Wednesday, Rep. Tony Gonzales felt like he was back in a war zone, says the 20-year-naval combat veteran.

"It reminded me very much of my time in combat," says Gonzales, 40, a retired master chief who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. "You either fight, or you run."

As members of Congress were evacuated, he decided to stay behind and fight alongside fellow freshman Republican Congressmen from Texas — Ronny Jackson, Troy Nehls and Pat Fallon – and Gonzales' friend, Rep. Markwayne Mullin (Oklahoma).

"We just looked at each other and we're like, 'I'm with you. However, this goes, I'm with you,'" Gonzales remembers.

Freshman Reps. Tony Gonzales, Pat Fallon, Markwayne Mullin and Troy Nehls help Capitol Police barricade the door to the House floor
| Credit: courtesy of Rep. Tony Gonzales

The five Congressmen helped Capital Police pile furniture in front of the door, then armed themselves with make-shift weapons.

"This mob was going to come in, and they weren't looking to talk," Gonzales says. "You could hear the stampede."

He's proud of how he and his fellow Congressmen ran toward the fire and prevented rioters from entering the House floor.

"If we wouldn't have stopped them, I firmly believe that you would have seen the same scenes that we saw in the Senate chambers in the House chambers," Gonzales says. "And I'm really proud that we didn't see that. That wasn't in the House."

When Congress returned to the floor that night, Nehls, Fallon, Jackson and Mullin voted in favor of challenges to the results in either Arizona or Pennsylvania — a decision in line with the rioters' desire to overturn the election results, PEOPLE previously reported. However, Gonzales did not vote in favor of the challenges.

Despite the violence, President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 electoral victory over Trump was later certified.