Police Officer Killed, Driver Fatally Shot After Ramming Into Capitol Building Barricade

  • In Politics
  • 2021-04-02 17:33:08Z
  • By The Daily Beast
Getty/Capitol Police
Getty/Capitol Police  

A Capitol Police officer was killed Friday afternoon after a car rammed a barricade outside the Capitol and the driver brandished a knife, sending the complex into lockdown just three months after the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection.

U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said two officers were rammed by the suspect's dark blue sedan after he drove through a barricade at about 1:02 p.m.

The driver jumped out of the car holding a knife. He was ultimately shot by officers after he failed to respond to verbal commands and "lunged" at officers with the knife, Pittman said in a Friday afternoon press conference.

The suspect was taken into custody but later died from his injuries, a Hill source confirmed to The Daily Beast.

"It is with a very, very heavy heart that I announce one of our officers has succumbed to his injuries," Pittman said. "We ask that you keep U.S. Capitol Police in your prayers."

The fallen officer was identified as William 'Billy' Evans, who had been a member of the force for 18 years after joining in 2003. Evans was with the Capitol Division's First Responder's Unit.

The second officer is "seriously hurt," law enforcement sources told The Daily Beast.

Pittman said the suspect was not known to Capitol Police and there was no indication of "any nexus" to members of Congress. She also said there was no ongoing threat and the suspect didn't yell anything before being shot.

"The knife was clearly in his hand and he started to run toward the officers," Pittman said, adding that officials reviewed security footage and didn't see the suspect wrestling or making contact with the two officers.

Pittman added that while an investigation into motive was ongoing, it does not appear to be "terrorism-related."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered flags at the U.S. Capitol to be flown at half-staff, just weeks after they were lowered for the Capitol Police officers who died after the Jan. 6 insurrection. Officer Brian Sicknick died in hospital after being sprayed with bear spray amid the chaos, and two more officers died by suicide.

Several congressional reporters tweeted photos and videos of the scene unfolding in front of them. Fox News reporter Jacqui Heinrich said stretchers were being brought in for injured people. Punchbowl News' Jake Sherman said a helicopter landed on Capitol grounds.

Those inside the Capitol were notified of the situation, getting an alert at 1:04 p.m. stating "no entry or exit is permitted" due to "an external security threat."

"Stay away from exterior windows and doors. If you are outside, seek cover," the loud-speaker alert said.

The messages continued to be sent to all congressional staff after the incident had seemingly ended. About 90 minutes later, Capitol Police sent an update saying the threat had been "neutralized," but the lockdown remained in place due to an "abundance of caution." Just after 3 p.m., the lockdown ended.

Congress is on recess, meaning the vast majority of lawmakers are not near the building. President Joe Biden had also already left D.C. for Camp David on Friday.

Plenty of staff and Capitol workers were still at the Capitol, however, as were some lawmakers.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), who did a live interview with CNN from his car Friday, said he had just stepped out of his Capitol Hill office and was going to get Chinese food when the area went into lockdown.

"I had thought that once the barriers were removed, that we were moving back to some sense of normalcy. But this just shows the level of risk that there still is, and really sad that this is happening at the Capitol," he said.

The Capitol complex had been surrounded by fencing in the wake of the Jan. 6 riot. But much of the outer perimeter was removed last week and many roads leading to the building-including the one where the attack took place-were reopened.

Lawmakers and staff were hopeful that the scaled-down security meant the Capitol was no longer under serious threat.

"I can't imagine, that going to the United States Capitol to represent your constituents is actually a dangerous thing in the United States of America," Khanna said. "It's just deeply sad."

Pittman said on Friday that it has been a hard time for the agency since the riot. "But we will get through this," she said.

First Capitol Riot Hearing Only Raised More Questions About Jan. 6

National Guard and Metropolitan Police officers quickly locked down two long blocks along Constitution Ave. The FBI's Washington Field Office also responded to the incident, a spokesperson told The Daily Beast.

"Praying for the United States Capitol Police officers who were attacked at the Capitol," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) tweeted. "We are still learning what's taken place. Grateful to all the USCP and first responders who are on the scene."

-with additional reporting by Sam Brodey and Matt Fuller

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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