WASHINGTON — One U.S. Capitol Police officer is dead and another is hospitalized with injuries after an apparent attack Friday at a Capitol checkpoint in which a man rammed his car into officers and lunged at them with a knife, police said.
Capitol Police identified the slain officer as William “Billy” Evans, an 18-year veteran of the force.
Evans began his service on March 7, 2003, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said in a statement, and was a member of the Capitol Division’s First Responder’s Unit. No other details were given.
The suspect — who has since been pronounced dead — entered the north barricade of the Capitol just after 1 p.m. ET, ramming his car into two officers and then crashing into a barrier, Pittman said at a briefing.
Officers engaged the suspect, she added, but he did not respond to verbal commands. He exited the vehicle and began “lunging” toward police with a knife visible in his hand, at which point officers fired their weapons, killing the suspect.
The two officers were transported to two hospitals, and Pittman said earlier that one had succumbed to his injuries.
“This has been an extremely difficult time for U.S. Capitol Police after the events of January 6, and now after the events that have occurred here today,” she said. “So I ask that you keep our U.S. Capitol Police family in your thoughts and prayers.”
Video from reporters at the scene posted on Twitter appeared to show a car that had crashed into a barrier. In the videos, at least two people were carried on stretchers into waiting ambulances.
The U.S. Capitol was placed under lockdown amid what Capitol Police described as “an external security threat.”
No entry or exit is being permitted, and police said: “If you are outside, seek cover.”
The incident occurred as both the House and Senate were in recess, though both buildings have staff – and reporters — working inside. Several lawmakers took to Twitter to share thoughts and prayers for those at the building as the situation unfolded.
President Biden was in Camp David, Md., when the incident took place, according to the White House.
A statement from the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department said: “A call came in at approximately 1:05 pm to the unit block of Constitution Ave, NE, for the report of a possible shooting.” MPD provided no other details.
The FBI’s Washington, D.C., field office said it had “responded to an incident at the U.S. Capitol” and is providing support to Capitol Police.
The D.C. National Guard said it deployed a quick reaction force, comprising National Guard soldiers and airmen, to the Capitol complex to support the U.S. Capitol Police.
Attorney General Merrick Garland “has been briefed on the incident … and is actively monitoring the situation,” tweeted Anthony Coley, a Justice Department spokesman.
The incident comes less than three months after the Jan. 6 riot that exposed serious flaws in the Capitol’s security apparatus.
Temporary fencing that had been erected around the Capitol’s outer perimeter was removed late last month, though temporary fencing remains in place closer to the building. The crash occurred at an access checkpoint to the Capitol.
Capitol Police have said that a reduced perimeter will stay up while it works with “congressional stakeholders and law enforcement partners to strengthen our security posture.”
NPR congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales reports that there has been considerable concern among lawmakers from both parties about the prospect of making the fencing permanent.
NPR Deputy Washington Editor Krishnadev Calamur contributed reporting.
This is a developing story. Some facts reported by the media may later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.