Chaos erupted in the nation's capitol Wednesday and several Central Coast residents were there to witness it.
When Orcutt resident Doug Dougherty first heard about the rallies planned for Jan. 6, he says he knew he wanted to go.
I will be speaking at the SAVE AMERICA RALLY tomorrow on the Ellipse at 11AM Eastern. Arrive early — doors open at 7AM Eastern. BIG CROWDS! pic.twitter.com/k4blXESc0c— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2021
"I felt called to do it - I mean, I never really felt called to do anything like that before...it was just kind of something that was weighing on my heart," Dougherty said.
After Dougherty and his brother flew to D.C., they woke up early Wednesday morning to be in the crowd.
"We went there just to pray for our nation's capital and our leaders and our system of government," Dougherty said.
Dougherty says they marched to the Capitol, where unrest was unfolding.
"Right about the time we went there, the first concussion grenade went off along with tear gas, and that created a ton of havoc, a ton of chaos. As you can imagine, a million people being pushed up and around this building and with all that stuff going on - people feel like they can't breathe. I got [tear gas] in my eyes and nose and it feels like your face is burning off. On top of that, rubber bullets were being fired off, so from that point the crowd was being unruly," Dougherty said.
Rioters made their way inside the capitol, something political analyst Kevin Riggs says is unprecedented.
"If you go back to the time of the Civil War, there was concern in Washington about the Confederacy surrounding the capital city, and there were a lot of concerns about security at that time - but we certainly haven't seen anything of this magnitude since then," Riggs said.
The nation is now reeling from the events, with many wondering where we go from here.
"We have a very strong system of government...I have to believe that. I think the system itself is stronger than any one person or any one cause - so we're going to get past this," Riggs said.
"For a lot of us it kinda feels like hopelessness now, but a lot of times that's when the least expected things happen. So we are going to keep praying, keep staying hopeful, and love our country," Dougherty said.
Dougherty says he and his brother were able to make it back to their hotel rooms unharmed. They have plans to return to California later this week.