Many Herald readers blame the former Fort Bend County sheriff for helping to fuel the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol last week.
Within hours of an angry mob storming the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Congressman Troy Nehls posted a photo on Facebook showing him facing off a vandal attempting to break into the House chamber.
“What I’m witnessing inside the US Capitol is disgusting,” Nehls, 52, said.
“Violent extremists stormed the Capitol and were breaching doors and breaking glass in the entrance to the House floor. Shots were fired. It came to the point Capitol Police had weapons drawn and we had to barricade the doors shut. I stood at the door shoulder to shoulder with Capitol Police attempting to calm the protestors talking to them through the glass.”
Nehls blasted the vandals in his Facebook post.
“This is America, the greatest country in the world. We are better than this. We can disagree and protest but violence is NEVER the answer and must be condemned in the strongest terms.”
But Herald readers lashed out at the ex-Fort Bend County Sheriff on Facebook, saying Nehls helped fuel the siege of the Capitol by spreading unsupported allegations of voter fraud and joining other Republicans who voted to reject the Electoral College ballots from swing states.
“Then Troy Nehls, joined in with the rejection of the electoral votes, which was a product of the conspiracy, that had the protesters there in the first place. Talk about fanning the flames!!” Emory Moore said.
“Oh please!! Trying to make himself a hero, we all know he is part of the problem that lead to this!!” said Teresa Atwood Pinyon.
Nehls did not respond to The Herald’s request for comment.
But he did share his story with other news sources.
Nehls said he was in the House Chamber debating a proposal to oppose the certification of electoral ballots from Arizona when a Trump-inspired mob broke into the Capitol.
He and another congressman helped barricade doors and keep rioters at bay.
Nehls shared his story with Fox News later that night and with CBS News on Thursday.
“The protesters were starting to hit (the door to the House chamber) and hit it violently. And so we were a little concerned that were going to be able to breech the door,” Nehls told a CBS reporter.
Protesters broke the glass in the door, Nehls recalled.
“I could see the anger in (one of the vandal’s) eyes,” he said.
A photograph of the confrontation was published on dozens of newspapers and shared by hundreds of websites and TV stations across the nation.
“I was doing everything I could to try to de-escalate the situation,” he recalled. “And it was a very tense moment.”
He said he attempted to calm the vandal.
“This is not the way we settle our differences,” Nehls told him. “Whatever (the issue) may be, we should never resort to violence. And I looked him in the eye and said you should be ashamed of yourself for what you are doing here. This is a sacred chamber.”
Nehls was wearing a Texas mask at the time.
The vandal said, “You’re from Texas, you should be with us.”
Nehls told the vandal that what he was doing was unAmerican.
“I said, ‘Listen, what you are doing right now I cannot support and I cannot agree with in any form or fashion.”
Nehls supporters applauded him for his heroism.
“Awesome job,” said Peggy Scholl.
Alan Macik also commended Nehls. “Thank you Troy Nehls,” he said.
But many Herald readers scolded Nehls on Facebook.
“He is the problem as well. In his own words: ‘I’m proudly announcing I will OBJECT to the counting of electoral votes in disputed states tomorrow. You sent me to Congress to fight for President Trump and election integrity and that’s exactly what I’m doing,’” Christa Rollock said.
Danny Diaz posted on Facebook: “GOP has enabled their national leader to the point of insurrection by his radical followers !!!!”
Chris Brown said “Nehls is part of the problem.”
Laura S Lowery Montano also blasted Nehls.
“Instigated by someone YOU support. You should be ashamed,” said
Nehls opponent in the November general election, Sri Preston Kulkarni, also went on Facebook to chastise the new congressman.
“The day before, knowing full well that these Trump supporters have been threatening and committing violence (including against Republicans who wouldn’t help Trump steal the election), Nehls was promoting Trumps voter fraud conspiracy theory, inciting these people and RAISING MONEY off of that incitement. Troy is as guilty as Trump in inciting this violent seditious attempted coup,” Kulkarni said.
Barbara Tatum said Nehls’ unsupported claims of election fraud help lead to the riot.
“There was nothing to debate about the electoral count, which any congressman should have been able to understand from a quick reading of the applicable parts of the Constitution and the law. What Nehls was doing was helping promote a fiction, rejected by over 60 courts and completely without evidence, that the election was somehow illegitimate or stolen, which directly led to this insurrection. He is a traitor. Nothing (less),” she said.