One Capitol Police officer was killed and another was injured after a car rammed one of the barriers surrounding the Capitol complex on Friday, forcing the area into a lockdown, with police fatally shooting the suspect.
Police said a vehicle ran into two officers. A suspect exited the vehicle with a knife and started “lunging” toward officers, who then fired on the person, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said at a briefing Friday afternoon.
“He did not respond to verbal commands. The suspect did start lunging toward U.S. Capitol Police officers, at which time U.S. Capitol Police officers fired upon the suspect,” she said.
“The suspect has been pronounced deceased. Two U.S. Capitol Police officers were transported to two different hospitals, and it is with a very, very heavy heart that I announce one of our officers has succumbed to his injuries,” she said.
Capitol Police identified the officer who was killed as William Evans, a member of the Capitol Police force for 18 years.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who ordered flags to fly at half-staff to honor the slain officer, called Evans “a martyr for our democracy.”
“Members of Congress, staff and Capitol workers, and indeed all Americans are united in appreciation for the courage of the U.S. Capitol Police. Today, once again, these heroes risked their lives to protect our Capitol and our Country, with the same extraordinary selflessness and spirit of service seen on January 6. On behalf of the entire House, we are profoundly grateful,” she said in a statement.
Police said they will continue to investigate the motive behind the attack.
“It does not appear to be terrorism-related, but obviously we’ll continue to investigate to see if there’s some type of nexus,” acting Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee III said of the attack.
“Whoever or whatever, we just don’t know right now, so we have a responsibility to investigate that to get to the bottom of this, whether the attack was at law enforcement or whoever, we have a responsibility to get to the bottom of it,” he said.
Pittman said the suspect was not previously known to Capitol Police “so there’s no indication at this time that there’s any nexus to any member of Congress.”
The acting police chief previously told lawmakers that threats against members of Congress have nearly doubled in the past year.
National Guard troops responded to the incident on Friday and were seen in videos shared on social media lining up with their shields at various intersections near the Capitol.
“The DC National Guard deployed a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) composed of National Guard soldiers and airmen to the Capitol complex this afternoon to support the U.S. Capitol Police. Due to operational security, we cannot discuss further details regarding the QRF,” the D.C. National Guard said in a statement to The Hill, adding no guardsmen were injured in the incident.
At 1:44 p.m. National Guard troops responded to the North Barricade entrance of the Capitol where USCP reports a car struck two officers pic.twitter.com/etTT5M0Wn3
— Lindsey McPherson (@lindsemcpherson) April 2, 2021
A number of National Guard members have been patrolling the Capitol since the deadly Jan. 6 riot and about 2,300 National Guard troops remain in D.C.
As the scene was unfolding early Friday afternoon, a Fox News reporter said two people were seen on stretchers outside the Capitol, and a helicopter was spotted landing in the area to respond to the incident.
Appears that a car smashed into the barrier. Two people are on stretchers. Can’t see whether it’s an officer or civilian pic.twitter.com/Ud5WYGyKFu
— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) April 2, 2021
A helicopter just landed on the east front of the Capitol. I’ve never seen anything like this before. ever. pic.twitter.com/LxV0mywRSe
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) April 2, 2021
Capitol Police sent out a notice shortly after the attack saying there was an “external security threat.” No one was allowed to enter or leave the building and staff was advised to stay away from doors and windows. The Capitol lockdown was lifted shortly after 3 p.m. after officers concluded their press conference.
The incident comes as U.S. intelligence agencies warned the nation remains at an elevated risk for domestic terror attacks, with a report issued last month warning of the threat posed by lone-wolf attacks.
Friday’s incident took place on the Senate side of the Capitol by a security station near an entrance frequently used by lawmakers and their staff. Congress is in recess this week.
“Praying for the United States Capitol Police officers who were attacked at the Capitol. We are still learning what’s taken place. Grateful to all the USCP and first responders who are on the scene,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tweeted.
“The brave men and women of the United States Capitol Police put their lives on the line every day to protect the heart of our democracy. We are hoping and praying for the recovery of those injured in the line of duty,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said in a statement.
The incident comes as security fencing surrounding the Capitol has been reduced in recent weeks. Just nine days ago, security forces finished removing the outer perimeter fencing that had been surrounding the complex, leaving just the fencing that closely circles the main Capitol building.
Capitol Police closed streets surrounding the Capitol on Friday afternoon, blocking intersections that were previously closed by the prior fencing.
The officer’s death Friday is the third within Capitol Police ranks since the beginning of this year, after Officer Brian Sicknick died in the line of duty during the Jan. 6 riot. Another officer, Howard Liebengood, died by suicide in the days after the Capitol insurrection.
“Please keep the United States Capitol Police family in your thoughts and prayers at this time. It has been an extremely difficult and challenging year for us,” Pittman said Friday afternoon.
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