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Teen who tipped off FBI about his dad's involvement in Capitol riot explains why he did it

"He would always tell me that he's going to do something big," the teen said. "I assumed he was going to do something big, and I didn't know what."

Teen who tipped off FBI about his dad's involvement in Capitol riot explains why he did it
Cover Image Source: (L) Twitter/Jackson Reffit, (R) FBI

Two days after the Capitol riot on January 6, Guy W. Reffitt proudly told his family about his involvement in the violent insurrection. By January 11 however, his high spirits had gone down a few notches after learning that widely circulated video and photographic proof placed him at the scene of the pro-Trump riot. As fear replaced pride, Reffitt threatened his son Jackson, telling the 18-year-old that he would have no choice but to do his "duty" for his country and "do what he had to do" if the teen reported him to the police. "If you turn me in, you're a traitor and you know what happens to traitors... traitors get shot," the 48-year-old allegedly told Jackson, according to an FBI affidavit.

 



 

Speaking to The New York Times in an interview over the weekend, Jackson revealed that he'd already reported his father to the FBI weeks before the riot. "He would always tell me that he's going to do something big," the teen said. "I assumed he was going to do something big, and I didn't know what." According to the affidavit from FBI agent Thomas B Ryan submitted in DC federal court last week, Reffitt's wife told investigators after the riot that he was a member of the Three Percenters, a far-right militia group founded on the false belief that only three percent of colonists fought the British during the Revolutionary War.

 



 

While investigating Reffitt's home in connection to his participation in the riot, FBI agents found an AR-15 rifle and a pistol — which he told investigators he had brought with him to Washington. Jackson said that while he learned that his father was headed to Washington the day before the riot, he wasn't aware of what he would be doing there. It was only when the teen saw images of rioters storming the Capitol on the news that he discovered what was happening and where his father was.

 



 

While it isn't clear what — if anything — the FBI did after Jackson first contacted the agency about his father, investigators did get in touch with him during the riots to follow up on his tip from weeks earlier. Jackson said he then helped "prove what they were trying to investigate." The teen explained that he had "just wanted someone to know" about his father's threats of "doing something big." "I didn't know what he was going to do, so I just did anything possible just to be on the safe side," he said.

 



 

As of the time of the interview on Saturday, Jackson was unsure if his father knew that he had reported him to the federal authorities. "I am afraid for him to know," he said. "Not for my life or anything, but for what he might think." But he is hopeful that his relationship with his father could be repaired. "We'll get better over time," Jackson said. "I know we will." He added that his mother and two sisters "had no idea what I had done" until they saw a CNN interview he did with Chris Cuomo.

 



 

Jackson received immense support from netizens after the interview went viral online, with many urging him to set up a GoFundMe. "Every penny is another course in college or me saving it for years to come," he wrote on the crowdfunding platform. "I might be kicked out of my house due to my involvement in my dad's case, so every cent might help me survive." Jackson — who is currently in his first semester studying political science at Collin College, a community college near his family's home in Wylie, Texas — has received over $83k in donations since setting up the GoFundMe page on Friday night.

 



 

Addressing those who might be grappling with whether to come forward about someone they believe could be involved in something dangerous, Jackson said: "You're not just protecting yourself, but you're protecting them as well. I put my emotions behind me to do what I thought was right." While And though he does not regret his decision to report his father, the teen said, "He's still family, and it's still weird."

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