CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It was a protest that was long-planned -- law enforcement in Washington, D.C. knew about it for weeks. It turned into a violent mob that stained democracy, and criminal justice experts are worried about what's to come.
It took place for hours. Many were glued to their televisions or phones inside their homes, at work, at stores -- watching the horror unfold live on several platforms.
"Totally unbelievable," said Darrel Stephens, the former Chief of Police for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
As many watched the chaos at the Capitol, many questioned how it could happen at what's supposed to be one of the most secure buildings in the world.
"I could not imagine that happening in the United States of America," Stephens added.
He has more than 50 years of law enforcement experience at the highest levels, and believed officers weren't ready for what happened.
"I don't think the Capitol Police ever expected them to attack the Capitol building," Stephens said.
As the nation watched, images showed officers being overpowered and pushed closer to where the mob wanted access.
Photos: Trump supporters storm US capitol during Electoral College affirmation
UNC Charlotte assistant professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology Shannon Reid said officers underestimated the risk because the group of rioters isn't taken as a serious threat by law enforcement as other violent groups are.
"We don't expect something to happen, but there are warning signs and we're not taking those warning signs as seriously for these groups as opposed to gangs, which I study," Reid said.
She argued local police departments need to better monitor groups like white supremacists, the proud boys, and other violent groups.
There are now concerns for what's to come next, including in communities around the country at the local level.
"That's a concern that people either were there and will take it home, or be here and see it and say we could do this here," Reid explained.