Fourth Generation Warfare

‘Some are still suffering’: Months after Capitol riot, police who fought the mob contend with physical, psychological pain

By Peter Hermann Washington Post

More than six months after Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell battled the mob that stormed the Capitol, he remains hobbled, a hand scarred, a shoulder aching, recovering from surgery to an injured foot that swelled so large it no longer fit his shoe.

The 42-year-old Capitol Police officer and Army reservist is also seeing a therapist to help with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), first diagnosed after he served in the war in Iraq.

He said bouts of anxiety returned after his battle on American soil in the Jan. 6 riot.

“I can be fine now and see or hear something and next thing I get tears and get emotional,” said Gonell, who was hurt when rioters tried to yank away his ballistic shield, threw a speaker at him, struck him in the face with a pole and sprayed him with chemical irritants.

“I tried to be strong,” he said of the months following the riot. “I tried not to show my emotion.” But once, he said, he retreated to a quiet space at his home in Virginia, away from his wife and 9-year-old son: “I completely broke down.”


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