Suspect rammed car into two Capitol Police officers, was shot when he ‘lunged’ toward police.
A US Capitol Police officer is dead after a man rammed his vehicle into a barrier just outside the Capitol building on Friday. The driver of the car was shot by police and died after being taken to a hospital in critical condition. Another officer has been hospitalised with undisclosed injuries.
“The suspect rammed his car into two of our officers, and then hit the north barricade barrier. At such time the suspect exited the vehicle with a knife in hand,” acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said. “Our officers then engaged that suspect. He did not respond to verbal commands.”
“The suspected did start lunging toward US Capitol Police officers, at which time US Capitol Police officers fired upon the suspect,” she added. “The suspect has been pronounced deceased.”
“And it is with a very, very heavy heart that I announce one of our officers has succumbed to his injuries,” Pittman said without identifying the officer’s name.
Police offered no motive for the incident but Robert Contee, the acting chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, said “it does not appear to be an ongoing threat”.
Contee said it did not appear that the suspect was known to Capitol Police or the Metropolitan Police prior to the incident.
US Capitol Police responded to the incident at the north barricade, outside the US Senate, after “reports someone rammed a vehicle into two USCP officers” shortly after 13:00 EDT (17:00 GMT).
CRITICAL INCIDENT: USCP is responding to the North Barricade vehicle access point along Independence Avenue for reports someone rammed a vehicle into two USCP officers. A suspect is in custody. Both officers are injured. All three have been transported to the hospital. pic.twitter.com/4TXIdulJc6
— U.S. Capitol Police (@CapitolPolice) April 2, 2021
National Guard, on standby since the January 6 riot at the US Capitol, responded quickly to the incident.
There were reports of gun shots at the Capitol as the incident unfolded and police ordered staff via text and a message broadcast on loudspeakers to shelter in place.
“Due to an external security threat located All US Capitol Campus Buildings , no entry or exit is permitted at this time. You may move throughout the building(s) but stay away from exterior windows and doors. If you are outside, seek cover,” the text said.
Most members of Congress were not at the Capitol on Friday because both the House of Representatives and Senate are in recess. One member, Representative Ro Khanna, was at the Capitol and tweeted that he was safe.
I’m safe and locked down here at the Capitol. Thankful today & every day for the US Capitol Police.
— Rep. Ro Khanna (@RepRoKhanna) April 2, 2021
Police closed several blocks of Constitution Avenue, the main boulevard running along the north side of the US Capitol building. Video from the scene showed police and emergency response vehicles responding.
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
Security at the Capitol has been extremely heavy since a mob attacked police and overran security checkpoints on January 6 after attending a political rally organized by former President Donald Trump.
A wide perimeter around the Capitol was sealed off after the riot with tall fencing topped with razor wire and guarded by police and National Guard. After weeks of debate about loosening security measures, that enhanced fencing and increased security personnel had begun to be removed last month.
Security fencing remains around the Capitol building itself and it is not clear how the suspect got his vehicle past that perimeter before crashing into the vehicle barricade.