A police officer and a suspect were dead on Friday after the suspect rammed a vehicle into two US Capitol police officers outside Congress in Washington, then lunged at others with a knife.
The suspect was shot. Two officers were taken to hospital. Police said one died.
The incident happened just after 1pm. Amid initial confusion, the Capitol was placed on lockdown, staff told to “seek cover” amid reports of an “external security threat”. One congressional reporter posted to social mediadramatic video of a helicopter landing outside the east front of the building.
At a briefing, Yogananda Pittman, acting chief of Capitol police, said she spoke “with a heavy heart”.
“The suspect rammed his car into two of our officers,” she said, “then hit the North Barricade barrier. That suspect exited the vehicle with a knife in hand. Our officers then engaged that suspect.
“He did not respond to verbal commands. The suspect did start lunging toward US Capitol police officers, at which time US Capitol police officers fired upon the suspect. The suspect has been pronounced deceased.”
“Two US Capitol police officers were transported to two different hospitals, and it is with a very, very heavy heart that I announce one of our officers has succumbed to his injuries.”
Pittman said no names or further details about the officers killed and wounded or the suspect would be announced immediately.
The Capitol has been on heightened security alert since 6 January, when supporters of Donald Trump stormed the building in an attempt to overturn his election defeat. Five people died as a direct result of the attack, one of them a Capitol police officer who confronted rioters.
Some of the security fencing put up after the attack has recently been removed.
On Friday, USCP said 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.
National guard members were filmed marching into the Capitol.
Pittman “asked that the public continue to keep US Capitol police and their families in your prayers. This has been an extremely difficult time for US Capitol police, after the events of 6 January and now the events that have occurred here today.”
Rob Contee, acting chief of Metropolitan police (MPD), said the suspect did not appear to have been previously known to law enforcement.
The MPD “homicide division as well as our internal affairs division will now take over the investigation,” he said, “with respect to the shooting death that occurred as well as the officer’s death”.
Conti said there did not appear to be a link to terrorism or a threat to any member of Congress, or any ongoing threat to the Capitol or the neighbourhood around it.
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 go after he came back to the Capitol from going out for lunch.