(CNN) — The U.S. Capitol was again secured, but four people were killed, including a woman who was shot, after supporters of President Donald Trump seized one of America’s most iconic buildings, plunging the nation’s capital into the chaos. This after Trump urged his supporters to fight the ceremonial recount of electoral votes that would confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Shortly after 1 p.m. Miami time on Wednesday, hundreds of pro-Trump rioters broke through barriers set up along the perimeter of the Capitol, where they clashed with officers in riot gear. Some called the agents “traitors” for doing their job. About 90 minutes later, police said protesters entered the building and the doors to the House of Representatives and the Senate were closed. Soon after, the police evacuated the room. Vice President Mike Pence was also evacuated from the chamber, where he was supposed to play his role in counting electoral votes.
An armed confrontation took place at the front door of the House of Representatives at 3 p.m. Miami time, and police officers pointed their guns at someone who was trying to break it. A Trump supporter was also photographed standing on the Senate floor in the early afternoon.
PHOTOS | Pro-Trump protesters break barriers and enter the Capitol
A woman, who has not yet been identified, died after being shot in the chest on the Capitol grounds, Washington police confirmed to CNN. No further information was available on the shooting and a police spokesman said more details will follow later. Washington Police Chief Robert Contee said three other people died of medical emergencies during the riot.
“An adult woman and two adult men appear to have suffered separate medical emergencies, which resulted in their deaths. Any loss of life in the District is tragic and our thoughts are with anyone affected by its loss, ”Contee said at a news conference Wednesday night.
Several officers were injured and at least one was transported to hospital, multiple sources told CNN.
Smoke grenades were used on the Senate side of the Capitol, as police worked to remove the rioters from the building. Windows on the west side of the Senate were smashed and hundreds of officers gathered on the first floor of the building.
The Senate hall was cleared of agitators at 3:30 p.m. from Miami and an agent told CNN that they had been successfully led away from the Senate wing of the building and into the Rotunda, and that they were being led out through the east and west doors. from the Capitol. It is unclear if any of the people have been detained.
The United States Capitol Police worked to secure the second floor of the Capitol first, and was seen just before 5 p.m. pushing protesters down the steps on the east side of the building. With about 30 minutes to go before the 6 p.m. curfew in Washington, police gathered in a long line to drive the mob off the Capitol grounds.
It took until about 5:40 p.m. for the building to be re-secured, according to the sergeant at arms.
The impressive display of insurrection was the first time the U.S. Capitol had been invaded since the British attacked and burned the building in August 1814, during the War of 1812, according to Samuel Holliday, director of scholarships and operations for the Historical Society. of the United States Capitol.
The shocking scene was greeted with less police presence than many of the Black Lives Matter protests that swept across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police officers last year. While federal police attacked peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square outside the White House over the summer, clearing the way for Trump to take a photo in front of a nearby church at the time, protesters Wednesday were able to outrun police in the Capitol and infiltrate the legislative chambers of the country.
An afternoon of chaos
Protesters first broke through exterior security barriers and video footage showed protesters gathering and some clashing with police near the Capitol building. The CNN team on the ground saw several protesters trying to climb up the side of the Capitol building. Several loud knocks were also heard.
The protesters could be seen pushing against the metal fences and the police using the fences to push the protesters backwards, while, overhead, other officers beat people trying to cross their lines.
Explosions were heard near the Capitol steps as smoke filled the air. In some cases, officers could be seen firing pepper spray. Tear gas was deployed, but it is unclear whether by protesters or police, and people wiped tears from their eyes while coughing.
After the building was breached, the Capitol police officer in the Chamber room told lawmakers that perhaps they should hide under their chairs and informed lawmakers that there were protesters in the building’s Rotunda. Many legislators wearing gas masks were seen as they moved between the Capitol buildings. Legislators called their families to report that they were fine.
Congressional leaders were being evacuated from the Capitol complex just before 5 p.m. Miami and were scheduled to be taken to Fort McNair, a nearby military base in Washington, according to a member of federal security forces.
Trump sent the National Guard to Washington along with “other federal protective services,” said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. The entire Washington National Guard has been activated by the Department of Defense, according to the Pentagon.
“The Washington Guard has been mobilized to support federal police in the District,” said Jonathan Hoffman, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman. “Acting Secretary Miller has been in contact with the leadership of Congress and Secretary McCarthy has been working with the Washington government. The law enforcement response will be led by the Department of Justice.
The official said the Washington National Guard was not intended to be used to protect federal facilities, and the Trump administration had decided earlier this week that it would be the job of civilian police, the official said.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a citywide curfew from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday.
Legislators return to the Capitol
Lawmakers began returning to Capitol Hill after the building was secured and made clear that they intended to resume their planned activities – that is, confirm Biden’s victory over Trump by counting votes in the Electoral College.
Proceedings resumed around 8 p.m. with Pence, who never left the Capitol, according to his press secretary, putting the Senate session back in order.
“Let’s get back to work,” Pence said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement late Wednesday that congressional leaders wanted to continue the joint session.
“Today, a shameful assault on our democracy was committed. He was anointed at the highest level of government. However, it cannot dissuade us from our responsibility to validate the election of Joe Biden, ”Pelosi wrote.
“To that end, in consultation with Leader Hoyer and Officer Clyburn and after calls to the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the Vice President, we have decided that we must proceed tonight on Capitol Hill once it is authorized for use. Leader Hoyer will report other information later today.
Republicans who planned to oppose various states that Biden won were strategizing among themselves while the Capitol was closed, and it is unclear whether they will extend the process as originally planned.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said “The United States Senate will not be intimidated. Thugs, mobs or threats will not keep us out of this chamber. He added: “We will certify the winner of the 2020 presidential elections.”
Trump tells his followers to go home
Trump finally asked his supporters to “go home” hours after the riots began, but, in a minute-long video, he spent lamenting and lying about his electoral defeat.
In an astonishing phrase, Trump told the mob to “go home,” but added, “We love you. They are very special”.
Trump managed a sympathetic tone with the agitators he unleashed by saying: “I understand their pain, I know they are hurt. We had a choice that was stolen from us. It was a crushing choice and everyone knows it. Especially the other side. But they have to go home now. We have to have peace.
However, Trump later justified the mob’s actions and praised them.
“These are the things and events that happen when a crushing and sacred electoral victory is so brutally and abruptly stripped of the great patriots who have been badly and unfairly treated for so long. Come home with love and in peace. Remember this day forever! ” he said in a tweet that was later removed by Twitter.
Others within the president’s orbit tweeted calls for calm as the mob tried to take over the building.
Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, said that his supporters who stormed the Capitol were “wrong” and that they were not “who we are.”
Be peaceful and use your First Amendment rights, but don’t start acting like the other side. We have a country to save and this does not help anyone, “he tweeted.
Several bombs were detonated safely
Federal and local police responded to reports of possible homemade bombs at various locations in Washington, according to a federal agent. It is not clear if the devices are real or a hoax, but they are being treated as real.
A homemade bomb was found at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee early Wednesday, a committee official told CNN. The device was found outside, along the wall of the headquarters. Police safely detonated it, the official said.
At least two suspicious homemade bombs were safeguarded by law enforcement, including the one in the building that houses the Republican National Committee offices and one in the U.S. Capitol complex, a federal law enforcement official told CNN. . The official said they were real and safely detonated explosive devices.
The Democratic National Committee was also evacuated after a suspicious package was investigated nearby, a Democratic source familiar with the matter told CNN. The party had pre-emptively closed the building before the protests, the source said, but some members of the security and essential personnel were evacuated.
Near the scene where one of the homemade bombs was found Wednesday, police found a vehicle and detained a suspect, finding a rifle and up to 10 Molotov cocktails, according to a federal agent. Investigators are working to determine if there is a connection to the previously found bombs.
CNN’s Pamela Brown, Phil Mattingly, and Daniela Diaz contributed to this report.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism