Trump supporter who died in Capitol siege followed QAnon conspiracy – family

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Rosanne Boyland shot dead in Capitol Hill raid
Rosanne Boyland

One of the Trump supporters who died during Wednesday’s siege at the US Capitol was a recovering drug addict who wanted to become a sobriety counsellor, but had also started following the widely discredited QAnon conspiracy theory that has circulated online, her family has said.

Rosanne Boyland, 34, from Georgia, was one of three people who died of medical emergencies when a pro-Trump mob, egged on by the outgoing president, stormed the Capitol as Congress was certifying Joe Biden’s victory. A fourth person was shot dead by police and an officer was also killed.

Capitol police have not released details about how Ms Boyland died.

“It just spiralled,” Ms Boyland’s sister, Lonna Cave, said outside her home in Atlanta.

She said the family has heard conflicting accounts. A friend who was with her said Ms Boyland was pinned to the ground and trampled during a violent clash between rioters and police, but her sister said a police detective told the family she had collapsed while standing to the side in the Capitol Rotunda.

Ms Cave said her sister had no intention of committing violence when she travelled to Washington, but the family had begged her not to go.

“She promised me, ‘I’m going to stand on the sidelines. I’m just going to show my support’,” Ms Cave told the Associated Press.

Ms Boyland had been arrested multiple times on drug offences, but had been sober for several years and found new purpose in politics, according to a friend, Nicholas Stamathis.

“She got clean and sober and stopped blaming other people for her problems and got real conservative,” he said.

She attended meetings of an addiction group in Atlanta and picked up her young nieces every day from school, her sister said.

The deadly insurrection led Ms Boyland’s brother-in-law, Justin Cave, to call for Donald Trump’s removal from office.

“My own personal belief is that I believe that the president’s words and rhetoric incited a riot (Wednesday) that killed four of his biggest fans,” said Mr Cave.

The sisters also clashed over Ms Boyland’s political views and the QAnon myth, which includes wild allegations of a child sex ring. Ms Boyland had begun following the conspiracy theory over the past six months, Ms Cave said.

Ms Boyland explored its baseless accusations that online furniture retailer Wayfair was part of the fictional ring, her sister said, and her faith in conspiracies spiralled from there.

“She would text me some things, and I would be like, ‘Let me fact-check that’. And I’d sit there and I’d be like, ‘Well, I don’t think that’s actually right’. We got in fights about it, arguments.”

Ms Boyland’s Facebook page featured photos and videos praising Mr Trump and promoting fantasies, including one theory that a shadowy group was using coronavirus to steal elections.

While they had not seen each other in years, Mr Stamathis said they chatted over Facebook Messenger regularly. A week or two ago, they had traded memes “of liberals losing their mind” online.

Another friend, Justin Winchell, said Ms Boyland was pinned to the ground when bodies of police and protesters pushed against each other. People began falling and then trampling one another, he told WGCL-TV in Atlanta.

“I put my arm underneath her and was pulling her out and then another guy fell on top of her, and another guy was just walking (on top of her),” he said. “There were people stacked two to three-deep… people just crushed.

The two others who died of medical emergencies were Kevin Greeson, 55, of Alabama, and Benjamin Philips, 50, of Pennsylvania.

Ashli Babbitt, 35, of San Diego, was shot dead by police as she tried to climb through the broken window of a barricaded doorway inside the Capitol.

Capitol Police Officer Brian D Sicknick was hit on the head with a fire extinguisher, according to law enforcement officials. He died in hospital.

Ms Boyland’s family has received multiple threats since her death. They blame Mr Trump for the violence, believing she got caught up in the president’s lies about the election.

“It cost her her life,” Ms Cave said.

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