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 “lunged” at the officers, said the chief, Yogananda D. Pittman.
At least one of the officers was medevacked to a hospital, according to one of the officials, and a National Guard quick-response team and the local police were on hand at the already heavily fortified complex. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a rapidly unfolding security incident.
It was the most serious security threat at the Capitol complex since the deadly Jan. 6 attack that injured dozens and killed five people.
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 permitted.
The police said on Twitter that the two officers had been taken to the hospital.
The Capitol went into lockdown around 1 p.m., with the police instructing staff to remain indoors, away from doors and windows, and to “seek cover” if they were outside. Images posted on social media appeared to show emergency workers treating someone on the driveway of the Capitol. Later, 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 alarm came on a quiet afternoon at the complex.
“Capitol: Due to an external security threat located All U.S. Capitol Campus Buildings, no entry or exit is permitted at this time,” the Capitol Police said in an alert circulated to staff. “You may move throughout the building(s) but stay away from exterior windows and doors. If you are outside, seek cover.”
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.
They also announced that they would ramp down the National Guard presence on Capitol Hill, reducing the number of troops to 2,200 while extending their deployment until May 23.
An inner-perimeter fence around the actual Capitol building remains in place while the police and lawmakers continue to hash out a long-term security plan.