A man accused of hurling racist slurs during an attack on an SDG&E worker last year is the brother of Ashli Babbitt, the Ocean Beach woman killed by police during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Roger Stefan Witthoeft Jr., 33, is accused of going on a racist tirade against a traffic controller with the utility company after he came up to a roadblock where the worker was stationed in September 2021, San Diego city attorney said last week.
Public records confirm Witthoeft is a relative of Babbitt, who used to go by Ashli McEntee for the name of her ex-husband. Witthoeft gave an interview with the New York Times in August 2021 where he identified himself as her younger brother. The San Diego Union-Tribune first reported the relation Tuesday.
The 35-year-old Babbitt, an Air Force veteran who lived in San Diego and ran a pool cleaning business, was shot as she and other supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in protest of the 2020 election results. Capitol police said she was trying to crawl through the broken glass of a door to the Speaker’s Lobby, where lawmakers and other people were barricaded from the mob.
Authorities say the September incident involving Babbitt’s brother happened at a roadblock on Voltaire Street and Mendocino Boulevard in Point Loma. Witthoeft drove up to the closure around 11:10 p.m. and became incensed when he was told he needed to take a detour in the area, the city attorney’s office said.
After yelling slurs at a worker, who is Latino, and telling him, “Go back to your country,” Witthoeft challenged the employee to fight him, according to prosecutors. He then shoved the worker and took a swing at him, knocking off his hard hat.
During the confrontation, Witthoeft is also accused of referring to the man as a “f—ing immigrant” and telling him to “talk in English.”
Witthoeft was arraigned earlier this month on battery charges with a hate crime enhancement, and on charges that he violated the victim’s constitutional rights by threat of force, the city attorney’s office said. His trial is scheduled for April.
Last year, investigators with the U.S. Department of Justice cleared a Capitol police officer of wrongdoing when he shot and killed Babbitt. In an interview, Lt. Michael Byrd later called the shooting a “last resort” that he took “to save the lives of members of Congress and myself and my fellow officers.”
Babbitt’s lawyer has maintained that her shooting was not necessary, and former President Trump recorded a video on what would have been her birthday saying she lost her life for “no reason.”
As the Associated Press reports, Babbitt frequently engaged with QAnon and other conspiracy theories online in the time before the Capitol riot, and she is considered a martyr by some on the far-right.
Babbitt’s husband Aaron clarified to FOX 5 Wednesday that Witthoeft is her half-brother and the two had been estranged for over six months prior to her death.