During riots at the United States Capitol on January 6 2021, a woman was shot on livestreams, an incident followed by memes claiming her name was “Roberta Paulson”:
Roberta Paulsen, protester shot in the neck in DC, has reportedly died.
— professional news account (@inteldotwav) January 6, 2021
WUSA9 reported that a woman (who remained unnamed) was shot and during the insurrection attempt:
A woman has been shot inside the US Capitol Building as pro-Trump supporters tried to break into the House Chamber, according to two sources that have confirmed the information to WUSA9.
CBS News confirmed that it is a woman and that this person is in critical condition at a hospital.
It is not known yet what exactly led to the woman being shot, but a photo from CBS News’ Zak Hudak shows law enforcement with guns drawn inside the House Chamber around 2:46 p.m. [on January 6 2021].
BuzzFeed reported on circulating video involving an eyewitness and alleged participant in the riots. The young man was unsure whether the woman had survived:
In a WUSA9 interview following the incident, one of the pro-Trump rioters, who identified himself as Thomas Morani from New Jersey (the spelling of his last name was not clear), said he had witnessed the shooting. It occurred after the woman “rushed to the windows” and wouldn’t follow police officers’ commands to get out of the way, he said.
“She didn’t heed the call, and as we kind of raced up to grab people and pull them back, they shot her in the neck,” Thomas said. “And she fell back on me…and then she started moving weird and blood was coming out of her mouth and neck and nose. I don’t know if she’s alive or dead anymore.”
It is unclear who fired the shot that injured the woman. Capitol Police did not respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.
She was not identified in either article, nor in any credible reporting we located. As for the “Roberta Paulson” meme, it was an apparent reference a character in the film Fight Club named Robert Paulson. Paulson was shot and killed during the events of the film, leading a chant echoed in the tweets and social media posts:
This resulted in all present members beginning to chant “his name was Robert Paulson,” along with the chant even reaching other chapters of Fight Club / Project Mayhem, resulting in Bob becoming a legend among fight club members and even becoming a martyr of sorts.
Although it was true a woman was shot and sustained life-threatening injuries during the Capitol riots, claims her “name was Roberta Paulson” appeared to be a hoax based on the line from Fight Club. NBC has reported that the woman did not survive.
Update, 10:42 PM, 01/06/2021:named The woman shot and killed during the Capitol riots was Ashli Babitt, not “Roberta Paulson” or “Roberta Paulsen.”