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Witnesses describe chaotic moments during Roe v. Wade protest at Arizona State Capitol

Witnesses share their recollections of the events leading up to Arizona state troopers deploying tear gas to disperse the crowd.

PHOENIX — Thousands gathered outside the Arizona State Capitol Friday night to protest the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

What began as a peaceful protest turned into vandalism of local monuments and violent criminal behavior, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said.

RELATED: 'We believe they were determined to break into the building': DPS issues its report on Friday night's events

Witnesses both in and outside the Capitol share what happened in the moments leading up to tear gas being fired.

Natacha Chavez said she didn't hear a warning from state troopers about potential shots of tear gas being deployed.

"The first warning was the tear gas," she said. "Two or three minutes later, that's when you heard the sounds of them launching the tear gas and you have to have a really quick reaction time."

Chavez told 12 News she took her 8-year-old daughter, Amelia, alongside her to the protest. She said everyone has a right to protest and the tear gas really caught them by surprise.

She is running for Arizona State House in Legislative District 22 adding, that she was there to collect signatures for the "Fair Elections Initiative."

"Even though the tear gas happened near the Senate and the House building, and was more toward the Rose Garden, unfortunately, the smoke carried and it got into her eyes," she said. 

Meanwhile, other witnesses like Hadden Newlander, noticed authorities taking a defensive stance.

"Probably around 8:45, they had declared an unlawful protest, people were kind of just going wild, kicking and screaming and then they started shooting CS gas," he added. "They were kind of trying to clear out that courtyard there."

Arizona State Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita watched from inside the Capitol building sharing footage and posting it to Twitter before being escorted to the basement with other lawmakers as a safety precaution.

"That's when I saw DPS start to line up and stand at attention in front of the glass doors," she said. "This is the first time, I have ever seen this level of violence and honestly felt like it had moved from a protest to something different."

DPS released a statement about their response, saying in part:

"The violence of their efforts literally shook the building and terrified citizens and lawmakers who occupied the building...After multiple warnings and notifications of trespass and unlawful assembly, state troopers deployed gas and strategically moved to clear the plaza."

DPS said no arrests were made during Friday night's protests in Phoenix, but six people were arrested following protests in Tucson.

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