Two years have passed but Lauren Wither-Hannsen can hardly forget the frank and opinionated neighbor who lived next door to her in Annapolis.
Their townhouses just outside the Cape Saint Claire neighborhood shared a back deck and the women would lean over the railings in the evening to chat.
“Not afraid to say exactly what she thought,” Wither-Hannsen remembers of her neighbor.
Still, she was shocked to hear the name of the woman identified as the person shot and killed by police while storming the U.S. Capitol with a mob of supporters for President Donald Trump.
Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran and fervent Trump supporter, lived with her husband and dogs in Annapolis and Southern Maryland before a divorce and move to San Diego in recent years. The 35-year-old died Wednesday at the hospital after she was shot by a U.S. Capitol Police officer.
Babbitt owned a townhouse for five years near Cape St. Claire in Annapolis, according to state property records. She flew the American flag and stuck military plaques in the yard. Before that, records show, she lived in Huntingtown in Calvert County. She worked at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant from 2015 to 2017, according to a spokesman for the energy company Exelon Corp.
Police shot her as the rioters bashed through the doors and windows, forcing their way into the Capitol where members of Congress were hiding, according to Steven A. Sund, chief of the Capitol Police.
Sund, who agreed Thursday to resign effective Jan. 16, said the rioters attacked Capitol police and other law enforcement officers with metal pipes, sprayed chemical irritants and “took up other weapons against our officers.” Cellphone videos of the mob show men trampling officers as they pushed through the barricades.
The scene was “unlike any I have ever experienced in my 30 years in law enforcement here in Washington, D.C.,” Sund said in a statement.
Ashli Babbitt’s husband, Aaron Babbitt, told KSWB-TV, a Fox affiliate in San Diego, that he and his wife live in San Diego and that she was in Washington on Wednesday to support Trump. Aaron Babbitt sent his wife a message about 30 minutes before the shooting and never heard back.
She had previously married Timothy McEntee in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 2005 and the couple moved to Maryland before their divorce in 2018. They had no children.
Her ex-husband called her a “wonderful woman with a big heart and a strong mind” in an email to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
She served active duty in the Air Force from 2004 to 2008, then in the Air Force Reserve and D.C. Air National Guard until 2016, military spokespersons said.
While in Southern Maryland and separated from her husband, she became embroiled in a legal fight with a woman who previously dated her boyfriend at the time, according to court records. The woman alleged Babbitt chased her down the road and rammed her car.
“She approached the passenger side of my vehicle, she was screaming at me and verbally threatening me. She was screaming at me to get out of my vehicle,” the woman wrote in a petition for a peace order.
Babbitt, not yet married to her husband Aaron and named in court records as Ashli McEntee, was cleared of traffic charges. The woman sued Babbitt in Calvert County Circuit Court and the case was dismissed a year ago.
By 2018, the then-named McEntee was listing her address as in San Diego. She sold her Annapolis townhouse the following year, according to state property records.
A Facebook account with her name says she married Aaron Babbitt on June 25, 2019, and identifies her employer as Fowlers Pool Service.
And a Twitter account under her married name identifies her as a veteran, Libertarian and supporter of the Second Amendment. She frequently retweeted comments by the president and his supporters about Wednesday’s gathering and their discredited claims of election fraud.
Her last comment, posted Friday, read, “Jan 6, 2021” with American flag and thumbs-up emojis.
Baltimore Sun reporters Alex Mann and Phillip Jackson and The Associated Press contributed to this article.