NYT photographer says was held at gunpoint by police during Capitol protest

A New York Times photographer claims she was attacked by protesters and then held at gunpoint by police during Wednesday's siege of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump.

Chaos after a pro-Trump protester breaches the Capitol building, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., US, January 6, 2021. /AP

Erin Schaff said she was taking pictures in the building and planned to report the confirmation of the Electoral College votes while hundreds of Trump's supporters pushed to get into the Capitol building.

She was one of several Times employees who were in the building when it was breached and subsequently recounted their experiences.

Schaff described how the protesters shouted and made noises when they broke into the building. She said two or three men, dressed in black, stood around her and demanded to know whom she worked for.

"Grabbing my press pass, they saw that my ID said The New York Times and became really angry," she said.

"They threw me to the floor, trying to take my cameras. I started screaming for help as loudly as I could. No one came. People just watched. At this point, I thought I could be killed and no one would stop them.

"They ripped one of my cameras away from me, broke the lens on the other and ran away."

Schaff said she retreated and took pictures of the rioters, but by then, tear gas and pepper spray were already being used by police.

At that time, she approached police officers.

"I told them I was a photojournalist and that my pass had been stolen, but they didn't believe me," Schaff stated. "They drew their guns, pointed them and yelled at me to get down on my hands and knees.

"As I lay on the ground, two other photojournalists came into the hall and started shouting, 'She's a journalist!'"

The officers then accepted her story and helped the journalists find a room but warned them not to leave on safety grounds.

The chief of Capitol Police will resign, according to media reports on Thursday, a day after the federal force charged with protecting Congress was unable to keep Trump's supporters from storming the building.