UPDATE, 1:38 PM PT: U.S. Capitol Police identified the officer who died on Friday as William “Billy” Evans, a member of the agency for 18 years.
Evans was one of two officers who was struck when a driver rammed his vehicle through a security checkpoint, but was stopped when the car crashed into a barricade on the north side of the Capitol. The suspect exited the vehicle with a knife, but police opened fire on him. He was later pronounced dead.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that Evans was “a martyr for our democracy.
“Members of Congress, staff and Capitol workers, and indeed all Americans are united in appreciation for the courage of the U.S. Capitol Police. Today, once again, these heroes risked their lives to protect our Capitol and our Country, with the same extraordinary selflessness and spirit of service seen on January 6. On behalf of the entire House, we are profoundly grateful.”
PREVIOUSLY: A U.S. Capitol Police officer died of injuries after a driver attempted to ram through a security checkpoint outside the Senate side of the complex.
A male suspect also died in the incident, which took place at an access point along Constitution Avenue, said Acting Chief Yogananda D. Pittman. Another officer also was injured and taken to a hospital.
The officers had been struck by the vehicle, which then was stopped when it slammed into a security barricade.
NBC News, citing law enforcement sources, identified the suspect as Noah Green, 25, of Indiana.
The suspect then exited a vehicle with knife in hand, but did not respond to verbal commands, Pittman said. Then the Capitol police opened fire on him. The suspect was later pronounced dead, she said.
“I just ask the public continue to keep U.S. Capitol Police and their families in your prayers,” Pittman said at a press briefing. “This has been an extremely difficult time for U.S. Capitol Police after the events of January 6th and now the events that have occurred here today.”
Authorities also said that the incident did not appear to be terrorism related.
The incident was a reminder of the ongoing concerns over security at the Capitol after the Jan. 6 riot and siege, in which five people died. Among them was Officer Brian Sicknick, but an investigation is still ongoing as to what caused his death.
Shortly after 1 PM ET, news networks quickly shifted to coverage of images from the Senate side of the complex, where a blue sedan was shown smashed in at the security barrier. Reporters said that the Capitol was in lockdown.
Security had been tightened considerably around the Capitol complex following the siege, most visibly with the installation of high security fences around the complex.
Although a fence perimeter had been removed from recent weeks, allowing vehicles closer access, there still has been the presence of National Guard troops and a much larger number of police officers. National Guard troops were dispatched to the area of the incident, which is typically one of the key entrance and exist points on the Senate side, between the Capitol and the Russell Senate Office Building.
Congress has been out of session this week, with many lawmakers back in their home districts. Many members of congressional staffs have been working remotely because of Covid-19, and visitors have been restricted since the onset of the pandemic closures last year.
On one day early last month, the House actually canceled a series of votes after intelligence officials warned of a threat. Capitol police warned that “we have obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group.” Although there were no incidents, there have been concerns of continuing threats.
The incident will likely renew debate over the need for permanent security measures at the Capitol, as some lawmakers have complained that the fencing that surrounded the complex made an otherwise public building look like a fortress.
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