One US police officer was killed and another injured on Friday after a vehicle rammed into one of the barriers surrounding the Capitol complex in Washington, forcing the area into a lockdown. US Capitol Police (USCP) later said that the motorist was shot and killed.
According to US Capitol Police just after 1 pm (local time), a man in a blue sedan rammed his vehicle into the North Barricade at the US Capitol striking two officers. After crashing his vehicle just inside the Capitol complex, the driver of the blue sedan exited the car and started “lunging” toward officers, who then fired on the person, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said at a briefing Friday afternoon.
“He did not respond to verbal commands. The suspect did start lunging toward US Capitol Police officers, at which time US Capitol Police officers fired upon the suspect,” Pittman said. Both the injured police officers were transported to two different hospitals after the attack and the suspect was also taken to the hospital, where he succumbed, Pittman said.
Acting Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said the investigation into the incident was ongoing. 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.
#UPDATE A Capitol Police officer has died after a car rammed into law enforcement at a security barricade. A second officer has been injured. The incident doesn't appear to be 'terrorism-related,' police say pic.twitter.com/1TA3JCbLFn
— ANI (@ANI) April 2, 2021
“It does not appear to be terrorism-related. But obviously, we’ll continue to investigate to see if there is some type of nexus along those lines,” he said at a news conference Friday. According to videos shared on social media, a helicopter was spotted landing in the area to respond to the incident. National Guard troops were also seen lining up with their shields at various intersections near the Capitol.
Later the police said that lockdown was lifted and the USCP has “cleared the external security threat incident located at all of the U.S. Capitol Campus buildings, however the area around the crime scene will continue to be restricted and individuals should continue to follow police direction.”
White House flag lowered to commemorate US Capitol Police veteran’s death
The White House flag has been lowered to half-staff following the death of William “Billy” Evans, an 18-year US Capitol Police veteran killed on Friday afternoon after a man rammed a vehicle into a police barricade outside the Capitol building.
US President Joe Biden reacted to the incident saying he and first lady Jill Biden are heartbroken. “Jill and I were heartbroken to learn of the violent attack at a security checkpoint on the US Capitol grounds, which killed Officer William Evans of the US Capitol Police, and left a fellow officer fighting for his life,” Biden said.
“We send our heartfelt condolences to Officer Evans’ family, and everyone grieving his loss. We know what a difficult time this has been for the Capitol, everyone who works there, and those who protect it,” the President said.
— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) April 2, 2021
“I have been receiving ongoing briefings from my Homeland Security Advisor, and will be getting further updates as the investigation proceeds,” he added. Biden also said he has ordered that the White House flags be lowered to half-mast.
United States House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has ordered the flags at the US Capitol to be flown at half-staff to commemorate the death of the US Capitol Police (USCP) officer. Taking to Twitter Pelosi’s Deputy Chief-of-Staff, Drew Hammill said: “Speaker Pelosi has ordered the flags at the US Capitol to be flown at half-staff due to the death of a US. Capitol Police Officer in line of duty today. The process of lowering the flags may take longer than usual because of the Capitol’s current lockdown status.”
At a press conference earlier on Friday, USCP Acting Chief Yogananda D. Pittman said: “I just ask that the public continue to keep US Capitol Police and their families in your prayers,” she said.
Kamala Harris condemns ‘inexplicable’ violence at Capitol
Vice President Kamala Harris condoled the death of US Capitol Police Officer William Evans, saying that he “made the ultimate sacrifice protecting the Capitol and those who work there on behalf of the American people.”
Evans died while another police officer was hospitalised after a car crashed into a security barrier at the US Capitol complex after which the driver lunged towards the officers with a knife, police said. The officers opened fire and the suspect was shot dead. “Officer Evans, his family, and all those who knew him are in our hearts and prayers. We mourn with them during this difficult time,” the US vice president said in the statement.
Doug and I are grateful for the Capitol Police, the National Guard Immediate Response Force, and all who responded swiftly to the attack. We continue to be proud of the courageous men and women who defend the Capitol, especially during this challenging period.
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) April 2, 2021
“Doug and I are grateful for the Capitol Police, the National Guard Immediate Response Force, and everyone else who responded swiftly to today’s attack,” Harris, who served in the Senate for four years, said.
“And we continue to be proud of the courageous men and women who defend the Capitol, especially during a challenging period when they have faced two violent and deadly attacks,” she said. Harris also said, “In an inexplicable act of violence, a brave US Capitol Police Officer, William Evans, was killed in the line of duty while another officer fights for his life. Officer Evans made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the Capitol. Our hearts go out to his family and loved ones.”
Second incident at Capitol Hill in three months
Furthermore, the incident follows a recent ramping down of some additional protective measures that were put into place after the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol Hill complex. Barbed wire fencing that surrounded the complex for months after pro-Trump rioters stormed the building on January 6 has since come down and thousands of the National Guard troops who were deployed in response to the insurrection have since returned home, though thousands still remain in Washington due to lingering security concerns. The National Guard was seen responding to Friday’s attack, and later confirmed it had been deployed to the Capitol
(With ANI Inputs)