Washington: The lockdown at the U.S. Capitol was lifted about two hours after a person rammed a car into barriers surrounding the complex on Friday afternoon, leaving one police officer dead and another injured.
The driver was shot by police and died in hospital. Local media citing senior law enforcement officials in charge of the investigation said the suspect has been identified as Noah Green, a 25-year-old man from Midwest state Indiana.
Green is a Nation of Islam follower, according to MSNBC, citing Facebook content that was thought to be posted by him. The authorities have not yet confirmed the suspect’s identity or specified a motive.
The killed police officer was named by Capitol Police as 18-year veteran William “Billy” Evans.
“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.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told pool reporters that President Joe Biden, who arrived at Camp David at noontime on Friday to spend the Easter weekend, is “aware” of the Capitol incident.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered the flags at the U.S. Capitol to be flown at half-staff due to the death of the Capitol Police officer, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff tweeted.
“This has been an extremely difficult time for U.S. Capitol Police,” Pittman said at a news conference on Friday afternoon, noting the attack underscores that the Capitol Hill remains a potential target for violence.
After ramming his car into the barricade, the suspect exited the vehicle with a knife, started lunging at and was killed by the police, Pittman said.
“The suspect entered what we refer to as the north barricade of the Capitol. The suspect rammed his car into two of our officers and then hit the north barricade barrier,” Pittman said.
“At such time the suspect exited the vehicle with a knife in hand. Our officers then engaged that suspect. He did not respond to verbal commands,” said Pittman, “The suspect did start lunging toward U.S. Capitol Police officers, at which time U.S. Capitol Police officers fired upon the suspect. At this time the suspect has been pronounced deceased.”
The exact cause of the police officer’s death was not immediately clear.
The attack occurred about 91 meters from the entrance of the building on the Senate side of the Capitol before 1:30 p.m. eastern time.
There was a heavy police response outside of the Capitol, including a helicopter landing on the premises. Washington Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation said it also provided support to the Capitol Police.
DC National Guard also deployed an Immediate Response Force made up of members of the National Guard to the Capitol complex to support the Capitol Police.
It was the second line-of-duty death in Capitol Police this year. Capitol Police officer, Brian D. Sicknick, died a day after rioters supporting former President Donald Trump stormed Capitol on Jan. 6 “due to injuries sustained while on-duty.” Two Capitol Police officers have died by suicide in the wake of the riot leaving five people dead including Sicknick,
Barbed wire fencing has been set up around the Capitol complex since the Jan. 6 riot. Several thousands of the National Guard troops still remain in Washington, D.C. over security concerns.