This story is breaking and will be updated:
WASHINGTON – Police say one officer was killed and another remains hospitalized after a man rammed a car into a security barrier near the U.S. Capitol building on Friday.
“It is with profound sadness that I share the news of the passing of Officer William ‘Billy’ Evans this afternoon from injuries he sustained following an attack at the North Barricade by a lone assailant,” acting U.S Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said in a statement.
Evans was an 18-year USCP veteran who served in Capitol Division’s First Responder’s Unit, Pittman said. “Please keep Officer Evans and his family in your thoughts and prayers,” she added.
Pittman said in a news conference that at 1:02 p.m. EDT, a driver rammed his vehicle into two USCP officers near the Capitol and then continued to hit the barrier on Constitution Avenue. The suspect proceeded to exit the car, brandishing a knife and “started to lunge aggressively toward U.S. Capitol Police officers,” ignoring verbal commands, she said. Officers then shot the suspect, who later died at a hospital.
The USCP announced Friday the other officer “who was struck by the car is in stable and non-threatening condition.”
Evans’ loss is a heavy blow for the USCP, which lost Officer Brian Sicknick when a mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. Another USCP officer at the Capitol that day later died by suicide, as did a member of Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department who helped defend the building. Almost 140 Capitol Police officers were wounded in that attack.
The suspect was identified as Noah Green, 25, of Indiana, said a law enforcement official briefed on the inquiry. The official, who is not authorized to comment publicly, said the suspect also appeared to have ties to Virginia.
D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Robert J. Contee III said there does not appear to be an ongoing threat related to the incident and that “it does not appear to be terrorism-related.”
Contee said police are investigating to determine Green’s motive. He said Green was not known to either D.C. Police or the USCP and was not previously considered a threat to lawmakers.
Capitol locked down
The gated entrance that Green rammed is one of several that allow access to the U.S. Capitol and is primarily used by senators and staff.
D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department reported that they received a 911 call at 1:05 p.m. about a “possible shooting” near the Capitol.
After the incident, the Capitol was placed on lockdown. An email from USCP sent to Capitol Hill staff at 1:20 p.m. EDT said, “The external security threat located at all of the U.S. Capitol Campus Buildings continues. ” The email told those outside to “seek cover” and text message alerts asked those inside to stay away from windows.
The lockdown was lifted at about 3 p.m.
“The USCP has cleared the external security threat incident located at all of the U.S. Capitol Campus buildings, however the areas around the crime scene will continue to be restricted and individuals should follow police direction,” said an email sent to Capitol Hill staff members.
Jake Sherman, a Capitol Hill reporter for Punchbowl News, shared footage of a helicopter landing on the east side of the Capitol building in response to the incident.
Access to the Capitol premises has been heavily guarded since the Jan. 6 riot that left five dead, including Sicknick. Friday’s incident did not appear to have any connection to the Jan. 6 attack.
Two layers of 8-foot fences, topped with barbed wire, were erected in the aftermath – one that surrounded the Capitol and another that surrounded the overall campus and blocks of federal buildings, including the Supreme Court and Library of Congress.
The outer fence was taken down late last month, which allowed pedestrians and vehicles closer access to the Capitol, including the area where this incident took place.
Members of Congress, president react
The incident happened while both chambers of Congress are out of session and most lawmakers are back in their home districts.
Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. who was back in South Carolina but had some of his staff in his Capitol Hill office said he was “thankful” the incident didn’t escalate.
“To think just about 10 days ago, we were removing the fences that created the border around the Capitol,” he told Fox News Friday. “I’m sure there’s going to be a new conversation about what that looks like going forward.”
President Joe Biden said he was “heartbroken” to learn of the attack and Evans’ death, and he ordered the White House flags to be lowered to half-staff “as we mourn the loss of yet another Capitol Police officer.”
Biden landed at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, on Marine One shortly before the attack occurred. He said he’s been receiving ongoing briefings from his Homeland Security adviser and would be updated further as the investigation proceeds.
“We send our heartfelt condolences to Officer Evans’ family, and everyone grieving his loss,” Biden said in a statement. “We know what a difficult time this has been for the Capitol, everyone who works there, and those who protect it.”
The president went on to “express the nation’s gratitude to the Capitol Police, the National Guard Immediate Response Force, and others who quickly responded to this attack.”
A series of congressional leaders also paid tribute to the Capitol Police after the incident.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s spokesperson Drew Hammill said Pelosi ordered Capitol flags to be flown at half staff in honor of the fallen officer. “The process of lowering the flags may take longer than usual because of the Capitol’s current lockdown status,” Hammill tweeted.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he was “heartbroken for the officer killed today defending our Capitol and for his family. I’m praying for the officer injured and his family.”
“We’re in their debt,” Schumer said in a tweet. “We thank the Capitol Police, National Guard, & first responders for all they do to protect the Capitol and those inside.”
“Once again, brave officers of the United States Capitol Police have been violently attacked while simply doing their job,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a tweet. “I am heartbroken that Officer William F. Evans was killed in the line of duty defending the Capitol. His name will go down in history for his selfless sacrifice.
“The Senate is praying hard for the second injured officer and for Officer Evan’s family and friends.”
“Praying for the law enforcement + first responders concerning the incident at the Capitol,” Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, tweeted.
Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del., told USA TODAY she was safe in her home state but is “deeply saddened by the announcement of the death of one of the Capitol Police Officers.”
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, told reporters, “The Capitol Hill police force, members of Congress, staff, especially over the last few weeks and months, has become a family. And we lost a family member today, someone who showed up at work today to protect the Capitol.”
Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., who was at the Capitol Friday, said the incident is a reminder that the building and what it represents remains a target.
“It seemed like we were finally getting back to what the Capitol should be, a place where anyone could visit,” Khanna told MSNBC. “But, you know, this incident, I think, shows that there’s still a threat and security, and safety has to come first, not just for members of Congress, but for all of the people who work here and people who visit here.”
Khanna said Friday’s attack was especially unnerving given what happened on Jan. 6.
“What is happening in our country, where we have people coming in, trying to use violence and knives and arms into the heart of American democracy, a monument of American democracy,” he said. “I mean, this is (why) our country was founded, to prevent violence, to say we solve disputes with debate and reasoned dialogue, and something is really just wrong.”
Contributing: Jeanine Santucci, David Jackson and Joey Garrison, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
Source: USA Today – Breaking News