U.S. Capitol on Lockdown After Vehicle Attack; 2 Officers Injured – The New York Times
A Capitol Police officer was killed and a second officer was injured after being rammed by a vehicle at the U.S. Capitol on Friday, the acting chief of the Capitol Police said. The suspect was shot and killed.
“The suspect exited the vehicle with a knife in hand” and began “lunging” at the officers, the chief, Yogananda D. Pittman, said during a news conference near the scene of the attack.
“It is with a very, very heavy heart that I announce one of our officers has succumbed to his injuries,” said Ms. Pittman, her voiced choked with emotion. “I just ask that the public keep the U.S. Capitol Police and their families in your prayers.”
At least one of the officers was medevacked to a hospital, according to law enforcement officials, and a National Guard quick-response team and the local police were on hand at the already heavily fortified complex.
Police officials did not identify the officers or the suspect, pending notification of next of kin, and did not say how the officer died.
Investigators do not yet have a motive for the attack, but do not believe the incident was “terrorism related” at this time, Chief Robert Contee of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department told reporters.
The driver was not previously known to the Capitol Police, Ms. Pittman said.
The violent attack was the most serious security threat at the Capitol since the deadly Jan. 6 attack that injured dozens and killed five people. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has ordered flags flown at half-mast at the complex in honor of the fallen officer.
Around 2:30 p.m., the Capitol Police said that the threat to the building had “been neutralized” and that people could move freely throughout the building, but that no entry or exit was yet permitted.
The Capitol went into lockdown around 1 p.m. on what had been a quiet, sunny Friday, with the police instructing staff to remain indoors, away from doors and windows, and to “seek cover” if they were outside, citing an unspecified “external security threat.”
Images posted on social media appeared to show emergency workers treating someone on the driveway of the Capitol. And a blue car could be seen rammed into one of the security barricades outside the Capitol, with the driver’s side door and trunk open.
One member of the news media, Jake Sherman, posted a video showing a helicopter landing near the building, hovering a few feet off the ground and then careening through trees as police vehicles drove across the plaza.
With Congress in recess, most lawmakers were not on Capitol Hill, and President Biden had left Washington earlier in the day for Camp David. But many aides were in and around the Capitol working or receiving coronavirus vaccinations.
A reporter informed Jen Psaki, Mr. Biden’s spokeswoman, about the incident during her daily press briefing at the White House. She said Mr. Biden was accompanied on his trip by national security aides who would update him on developments.
The attack came more than a week after officials removed a perimeter fence topped with razor wire that had been placed around the complex to guard against follow-up attacks after the Jan. 6 riot, and reopened the streets surrounding the Capitol to vehicle traffic.