‘We were surrounded and trapped’: Florida Congressman recalls events of Jan. 6 insurrection

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — Florida has the most arrests of insurrectionists by far across the country with 76 cases opened here by federal agents.

Of those, 26 of the Floridians charged were from Central Florida.

>>> STREAM CHANNEL 9 EYEWITNESS NEWS LIVE <<<

Now lawmakers all over the state are handling this one year anniversary some by remembering others by not mentioning it at all.

Congressman Darren Soto was one of the 10 lawmakers stuck in the Chamber on Jan. 6, 2020.

READ: Attack on the Capitol: How many Florida defendants are there?

“We were surrounded by violent insurrectionists who sought to overthrow our democracy, they thought to stop the electoral count,” Soto said.

“We were surrounded and trapped for what felt like 10-20 minutes and they shot the gas out there to try and disperse the crowd and finally they were able to clear one exit for us to get down.”

READ: Marion County man among those arrested in chaos at the Capitol

But he and other lawmakers knew they had to finish the job, not just for the people but for democracy.

Soto said now he doesn’t live in fear, and that helping change has helped him move forward.

READ: ‘How did they get in?’: Lawmakers demand answers after violent mob storms Capitol

He said progress has been made in the last year. The Jan. 6 Commission was created, hundreds of insurrectionists were arrested, hundreds more are still being sought, and more security is now at the Capitol.

But some say we are more divided than ever.

“I think the nation is always somewhat divided and somewhat undivided,” Soto said. “That was a moment that showed Washington can come together.”

READ: Trump cancels Florida press conference scheduled for Jan. 6

But Soto said there is still a lot of work to do, so he will remember Jan. 6 as a day he will never forget and one he thinks no one should.

“If we don’t treat it with the seriousness it deserves we could repeat it,” he said.

Soto said the biggest concerns he has now for security is for local government meetings and buildings like courthouses and commission buildings.

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.

Shannon Butler

Shannon Butler, WFTV.com

Shannon joined the Eyewitness News team in 2013.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.