A police officer and a suspect died Friday after the suspect rammed two U.S. Capitol police officers outside of Congress in Washington, then pounced on others with a knife.
The suspect was shot. Two officers were taken to the hospital. Police named the officer who died as William “Billy” Evans, an 18-year veteran of the department.
The incident occurred shortly after 1 p.m. Amid the initial confusion, the Capitol was closed and staff were told to “seek refuge” amid reports of a “threat to external security.” A congressional reporter posted on social media dramatic video of a helicopter landing outside the east front of the building.
In a briefing, Yogananda Pittman, acting chief of the Capitol Police, said she spoke “with a heavy heart.”
“The suspect rammed his car into two of our officers,” he said, “then hit the barrier of the North Barricade. That suspect exited the vehicle with a knife in his hand. Then our officers confronted that suspect.
“He did not respond to verbal orders. The suspect began lashing out at the United States Capitol police officers, at which point the United States Capitol police officers fired at the suspect. The suspect has been declared deceased. “
“Two policemen from the United States Capitol were transferred to two different hospitals, and with a very, very heavy heart I announce that one of our officers has succumbed to his injuries.”
In a later statement, Pittman said: “It is with deep sadness that I share the news of the passing of Officer William ‘Billy’ Evans this afternoon.”
Evans began working for the Capitol Police in 2003, he said, and was a member of the first aid unit.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered flags to be flown on Capitol Hill at half mast in recognition of the fallen officer. His Democratic counterpart in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, said: “I am heartbroken for the officer killed today defending our Capitol and for his family. We are indebted to them. “
Since retiring from Camp David in Maryland, Joe Biden has ordered the White House flag to fly at half-staff as well.
“I have been receiving continuous reports from my national security adviser and will receive further updates as the investigation progresses,” the president said. “I want to express the nation’s gratitude to the Capitol Police… and others who responded quickly to this attack. [We] We mourn the loss of another brave Capitol Police Officer. “
Kamala Harris said Evans had “made the ultimate sacrifice” on behalf of the American people.
Congresswoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a member of the Republican leadership, tweeted her condolences.
Even after the lockdown on the Capitol was lifted around 3:30 p.m., Congressional staff were still told to stay in the buildings and not come out.
“The external security threat located in every building on the US Capitol campus has been neutralized, but [Capitol police are] We are continuing to investigate as a precaution and entry or exit is still not allowed at this time, ”a police notice reads. “You can move inside buildings and underground between buildings. If you are outside, seek shelter. “
The Capitol has been on the highest security alert since January 6, when Donald Trump supporters stormed the building in an attempt to reverse their electoral defeat. Five people died as a direct result of the attack, one of them a Capitol police officer who confronted the rioters.
Some of the security fences put up after the attack have recently been removed.
Pittman “asked that the public continue to keep the United States Capitol Police and their families in their prayers. This has been an extremely difficult time for the United States Capitol Police, after the events of January 6 and now the events that have occurred here today. “
On Friday, USCP saying Constitution Avenue between Second Street NE and First Street NW and First Street between Constitution Avenue NE and Independence Avenue SE were closed to traffic.
Members of the National Guard were filmed marching towards the Capitol.
Law enforcement officers identified the suspect as 25-year-old Noah Green. Investigators were still looking at his background and examining whether he had a history of mental health problems while they tried to discern a reason. They were working to obtain access orders to their accounts online.
Pittman said the suspect did not appear to have been on police radar. But the attack underscored that the building and campus and the officers tasked with protecting them remain potential targets of violence.
Green described himself as a follower of the Nation of Islam and its controversial founder, Louis Farrakhan, and spoke of going through a difficult time during which he leaned on his faith, according to recent messages posted online that have since been eliminated. The messages were captured by the group’s site, which tracks online activity.
“To be honest, these last few years have been tough, and these last few months have been tougher,” he wrote. “I have been put through some of the biggest and most unimaginable tests of my life. I am currently unemployed after I quit my job partly due to afflictions, but ultimately in search of a spiritual journey. “
Rob Contee, the acting chief of the metropolitan police, said in a briefing that there did not appear to be a link to terrorism or a threat to any member of Congress, nor any ongoing threat to the Capitol or the surrounding neighborhood.
The House and Senate are not in session, but some elected officials and staff were in the building on Friday. Ro Khanna, a Democratic representative from California, spoke to CNN from his car, where he said officers had told him to come after he returned to the Capitol after going out for lunch.
“It’s really sad,” he said. “Once the barriers were removed, we returned to a certain sense of normalcy, but this only shows the level of risk that still exists.
“I can’t imagine saying that going to the United States Capitol to represent your constituents is actually a dangerous thing.”
Contee said, “Whether the attack was against the police or whoever, we have a responsibility to get to the bottom and we will.”
Gabrielle Canon and the Associated Press contributed reporting
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism