Richard Barnett inside the office of Nancy Pelosi

Richard Barnett, a supporter of US President Donald Trump sits inside the office of US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as he protest inside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021.

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - You've seen the powerful images from the U.S. Capitol mob and chaos this week, but the person behind many of the viral photos is actually a native Arizonan.

He spoke to Arizona's Family Friday about how his experience unfolded taking the pictures now seen around the world.

Jake Angeli Getty Image

Supporters of US President Donald Trump, including Jake Angeli (C), a QAnon supporter known for his painted face and horned hat, enter the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC.  

"It was a surreal, and at times, scary experience," said Saul Loeb.

Loeb, a native Arizonan and University of Arizona graduate, is now a photojournalist for Agence France- Presser's in Washington, D.C. and was assigned to cover the joint session and electoral vote inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. But his day quickly changed when an announcement came over the loudspeaker.

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"There's a security situation on campus. Shelter in place. Close your door. Lock your door," Loeb recalled the message saying.

Loeb took his camera to where he heard the commotion — the Capitol rotunda.

"Once I was there, I just saw hundreds of hundreds of protesters coming in from seemingly every direction filling up the rotunda, taking pictures and selfies with all the statutes that are there, putting MAGA hats on the statutes, putting flags in their hands," Loeb said.

He captured many iconic images, including the one seen of 60-year-old Richard Barnett with his feet up on Nancy Pelosi's desk, then taking her mail, pictures that helped lead to his arrest on federal charges Friday morning.

"I mean this is one of the most powerful people in Washington, one of the most powerful people in the country, in a highly secure area. Normally you can't go anywhere near there, and here he is just making himself at home, feet on the desk taking it easy," Loeb said.

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Loeb said between protesters wearing tactical gear and tear gas coming from the hallways, he felt like he was trapped in a movie.

"The protesters, these demonstrators, had basically complete control of the first and second floors of the Capitol — the United States Capitol," he said.

And while he stayed committed to his job as chaos ensued, Loeb never could have imagined what he'd capture on his camera would change U.S. history forever.

Donald Trump protest in the US Capitol Rotunda

Supporters of US President Donald Trump protest in the US Capitol Rotunda on January 6, 2021, in Washington, DC. 

"My entire goal that day was just to try to document as best I could to be able to tell the story of what was happening, and so people could see how the Capitol was completely taken over," said Loeb.

 

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