A Capitol Police officer died and another was seriously injured on Friday after a driver rammed a vehicle into a barricade outside the building, officials said.
The suspect, who was later pronounced dead, crashed into the two officers on Constitution Avenue outside the Capitol just after 1:00 p.m. The driver then exited the vehicle and brandished a knife, prompting officers to shoot the driver. Both of the officers and the suspect were transported to a nearby hospital.
The death of a Capitol Police officer rocked a force already reeling since the Jan. 6 mob attack on the Capitol that left another officer, Brian Sicknick, dead. Two officers who responded to that assault later died by suicide, in what their families have said was a direct result of the impact of the Jan. 6 attack.
“It has been an extremely difficult and challenging year for us, but we will get through this,” acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said.
The suspect was not known to Capitol Police or the D.C. Metropolitan Police, officials said. Robert Contee, the acting D.C. police chief, said the incident “does not appear to be terrorism-related” and that there was no indication of a “nexus to a member of Congress.” The suspect’s motive was unknown.
Capitol Police issued an all-clear just after 3:00 p.m., lifting the lockdown for those inside the various Capitol buildings.
President Joe Biden, who is spending the weekend at Camp David, was briefed on the incident, the White House said. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) ordered all flags at the Capitol to be flown at half-staff on Friday in honor of the fallen officer.
The House and Senate are currently on recess, but some lawmakers, staff, and reporters were working on Capitol Hill. A notice sent to lawmakers and staff shortly after 1:00 pm warned them to stay away from “exterior windows and doors” and for those outside to “seek cover.”
Multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the scene, and the FBI’s Washington Field Office said it was providing support to the Capitol Police. A quick response force — the contingent of troops deputized in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack — was activated shortly before 1:30 p.m., according to a person familiar with the matter. A Pentagon official confirmed the deployment.
The complex was locked down in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot, and a National Guard contingent of around 2,300 troops was still stationed in the area as of Friday. National Guardsmen ran to barricades around the Capitol on Friday, many carrying riot shields that had been stocked at the complex since the riot. The Capitol Police closed several blocks around the building as law enforcement responded to the scene.
As of two weeks ago, the exact spot where the incident occurred was blocked off from the public. For more than two months, 10-foot fencing surrounding the entire Capitol complex, preventing unauthorized individuals from gaining access. A debate had been raging on Capitol Hill over whether to remove the fencing or maintain some sort of perimeter indefinitely.
The department has been under intense scrutiny following the failures that led to the Jan. 6 breach. The House and Senate are both undertaking intensive security reviews and making proposals that could reshape the Capitol Police force dramatically.
Kyle Cheney, Natasha Bertrand and Lara Seligman contributed to this report.
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