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Onion takes heat from Capitol Police after tweets about gunfire

Capitol Police responded to an erroneous report of violence inside the Capitol building Thursday morning.

The Internet was abuzz with rumors of gunfire inside the Capitol building, but the false reports appeared to be the result of spoof Twitter postings from the satirical news outlet The Onion.

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At around 10:45 a.m. Thursday, The Onion posted on its Twitter feed that “witnesses reporting screams and gunfire heard inside Capitol building.” The tweet had no link or hash tag.

A minute later, The Onion added a second post, “Capitol building being evacuated. 12 children held hostage by group of armed congressmen.” That tweet linked to a satirical story on the subject, with a doctored photo featuring House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLobbying World Freedom Caucus wants budget reforms attached to debt limit increase Trey Gowdy announces retirement from Congress MORE (R-Ohio) holding a gun to a child.

The tweets came the day after the FBI arrested a Massachusetts man for allegedly plotting to blow up the Capitol and the Pentagon.

The Capitol Police were quick to address the rumors, issuing a statement that “It has come to our attention that recent Twitter feeds are reporting false information concerning current conditions at the U.S. Capitol.”

According to Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, “Conditions at the U.S. Capitol are currently normal. There is no credibility to these stories or the twitter feeds. The U.S. Capitol Police are currently investigating the reporting.”

The Onion didn't stop there.

In a video posted to The Onion web site claiming to be from inside the Capitol hostage situation, a masked man labeled as Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) is heard saying “Nobody move, you’re all going to die.”

A small frightened child is filmed crying, “I want my mommy.”

Another masked man, labeled as Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), says “Hey BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLobbying World Freedom Caucus wants budget reforms attached to debt limit increase Trey Gowdy announces retirement from Congress MORE, this kid’s got a phone,” and a shot is heard as the video fades to black.

The site then tweeted "Congress demanding $12 trillion ransom or 'all the kids die.'"

In another Twitter post, the site claimed an "Arlington gun shop confirms [House Majority Leader] Eric CantorEric Ivan Cantor'Release the memo' — let's stop pretending that Democrats are the defenders of the FBI Raúl Labrador, a model for Hispanic politicians reaching higher Eric Cantor: Moore ‘deserves to lose’ MORE [(R-Va.)] bought 6 semi-automatic handguns, 3 rifles & 600 clips of ammo last month."

Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring tweeted: "The Onion: FAIL. #notfunny."
 
The Onion communications and public relations manager Anne Finn declined to comment on the postings.

— This story was last updated at 12:35 p.m.