UPDATE, 5:22 PM PT: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued an irate statement over the evacuation of the Capitol, which caused a momentary bit of alarm until Capitol Police determined that there was really no “probably threat” from approaching aircraft.
Pelosi blamed the incident on the FAA.
In a statement, Pelosi said, “Today, and every day, our Congressional community is extraordinarily grateful for the heroism of our United States Capitol Police officers. In ordering the evacuation of the Capitol and vigilantly monitoring for a potential aircraft threat, our officers ensured the safety of all who work in these hallowed halls — and we thank them for their exemplary service.
“The Federal Aviation Administration’s apparent failure to notify Capitol Police of the pre-planned flyover Nationals Stadium is outrageous and inexcusable. The unnecessary panic caused by this apparent negligence was particularly harmful for Members, staff and institutional workers still grappling with the trauma of the attack on their workplace on January 6th.
“Congress looks forward to reviewing the results of a thorough after-action review that determines what precisely went wrong today and who at the Federal Aviation Administration will be held accountable for this outrageous and frightening mistake.”
PREVIOUSLY: So, looks like some sporting and police wires got crossed this evening and caused a short-term panic in the nation’s capital.
The seemingly potentially dire evacuation order that went out from U.S. Capitol Police about an hour ago over a “probable threat” from a circling plane actually was a Military Appreciation Day stunt intended for tonight’s Washington Nationals baseball game. Apparently no one told the congressional cops, nor did they check on available apps or social media to see what might be going on.
Note the social media post from Politico congressional reporter Andrew Desiderio that brought some clarity to the situation:
So, in conclusion, a poorly coordinated pregame parachute-drop into Nationals Park caused an urgent evacuation of the U.S. Capitol complex and about 15 minutes of utter panic in Washington. https://t.co/O5sicdZjnn
— Andrew Desiderio (@AndrewDesiderio) April 20, 2022
The aircraft carrying members of the Army Golden Knights, the official parachute team of the U.S. Army, doesn’t seem to have received the clearances required for flying in the restricted airspace of D.C. Officially, the U.S. Capitol Police haven’t updated their take on the situation in more than 45 minutes, but it seems they were just doing their job protecting our elected representatives today.
However, in the heightened tensions of D.C. since the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by MAGA morons, it might be good for a sing-a-long of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” tonight to calm everyone’s nerves. Of course, to add insult to injury, the Nationals trailed the Arizona Diamondbacks early in the MLB game tonight.
PREVIOUSLY, 4 PM: Washington D.C. went into high alert for a short time this afternoon as the U.S. Capitol Police ordered Senators, Representatives, staff, media and everyone else out of the Congress complex because of a “probable threat” from a nearby aircraft.
After a flurry of activity on the streets around the Capitol and on social media, the police deemed that there was never actually a direct threat:
The Capitol was evacuated out of an abundance of caution this evening.
There is no threat at the Capitol.
More details to come. pic.twitter.com/7qqxqQyzlD
— U.S. Capitol Police (@CapitolPolice) April 20, 2022
In the rush of information, the usually nimble cable newswers were slow to respond today to the breaking news. Only Fox News Channel broke into programming to announce the alert. The Rupert Murdoch-owned outlet was also the first to reveal there was no actual threat and the update for U.S. Capitol Police.
Those affected by the evacuation order are being told to stay at their “Rally Point/Assembly Area.” Police say “a final update will be provided when buildings are open and available for reentry.”
As more details of what actually happened or is happening emerge, here’s the initial alert that popped up on mobile phones in the last 30 minutes:
The USCP is tracking an aircraft that poses a probable threat to the Capitol Complex.
• Evacuate the U.S. Capitol, Capitol Visitor Center, Hart, Dirksen, Russell, Cannon, Longworth, Rayburn, Library of Congress (Jefferson, Madison and Adams) and U.S. Botanic Garden (Administrative and Conservatory) buildings.
• If you are on the Senate side of the Capitol or CVC, in the Hart, Dirksen, or Russell buildings: move NORTH towards Union Station to the Aircraft Intrusion Assembly Area in the parks just prior to Columbus Circle NE. DO NOT STOP at your primary assembly area.
• If you are on the House side of the Capitol or CVC, in the Cannon, Longworth, Rayburn or U.S. Botanic Garden (Administrative and Conservatory) buildings: move SOUTH towards Garfield Park. DO NOT STOP at your primary assembly area.
• If you are in the Library of Congress (Jefferson, Madison, and Adams) buildings: move SOUTH towards Folger and Providence Parks. DO NOT STOP at your primary assembly area.
• If you are in Ford, O’Neill, Postal Square, the Senate Page Dorm/School at Webster Hall, the Senate Child Care Center, or LOC Daycare Center, remain indoors.
• Updates will be provided.