By Jackie Kucinich - 09/19/06 12:00 AM EDT
Capitol Police apprehend armed man at Capitol as lawmakers raise concern over security protocol.
The Capitol Police apprehended an armed man carrying crack cocaine yesterday inside the U.S. Capitol after he crashed his car through a Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) barricade into a fountain and sprinted into the building, according to the acting chief of police.
At a briefing over nine hours after the incident, Acting Chief Christopher McGaffin said the 20-year old suspect from Silver Spring, Md., Carlos Greene, drove through a construction barrier at First Street and Maryland Avenue at approximately 7:45 yesterday morning.
The vehicle, a light colored Chevrolet SUV which was reported stolen in Montgomery County, was stopped by the seat wall surrounding an 8-foot-wide, 18-inch deep pool of water that surround one of the two Great Hall skylights of the CVC complex.
Greene ran up the Capitol steps and entered the building on the third floor and was subsequently caught by Capitol Police on the first floor.
In addition to a loaded small pistol, Greene was in possession of crack cocaine.
“We believe this individual was under the influence of a controlled substance,” McGaffin told reporters.
Shortly after he was apprehended, he suffered a seizure and was transported to Greater Southeast Community Hospital where he has remained under police supervision.
McGaffin said while the breach was unacceptable, officers followed protocol. He praised officers on the interior of the Capitol for their quick reaction to the unauthorized individual.
Asked why Greene was not shot before entering the building, McGaffin replied that lethal force is the last resort and that officers used “perfect judgment.”
He said that Greene would be charged with a number of offenses, including assaulting a police officer.
McGaffin said Greene has a criminal record, but declined to elaborate.
The Capitol was locked down for approximately one hour following the incident.
A CVC spokesman referred all inquiries to Capitol Police, as did the Architect of the Capitol.
For many on Capitol Hill, this incident brought back memories of July 24, 1998 when Russell Eugene Weston Jr. shot and killed Capitol Police officers Jacob J. Chestnut and John M. Gibson outside of then House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s (R-Texas) office.
That incident caused the police to revamp and add security procedures inside the building.
A spokeswoman for the House Administration Committee said staff intends to work with the police to examine yesterday’s events so a similar incident could be avoided in the future.
“The committee has been briefed on this incident by the Capitol Hill Police,” said House Administration Committee spokeswoman Salley Collins.
A spokeswoman for the Senate Rules Committee said the committee staff director had received preliminary information from the police and had no intention of holding hearings to examine the incident.
Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) who oversees the U.S. Capitol Police in his role as the chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, said, “Capitol Police Acting Chief Christopher M. McGaffin said that [yesterday’s] security breach was not a funding or resources issue, but a hole in the security plan. The Capitol Police are completing an after action report to study this gap in security and other possible security issues.”
He added, “It’s unacceptable that there was a security breach and I expect Capitol Police to work to ensure that this kind of security breach does not happen again.”
In May, reports of gunfire locked down the Rayburn House Office Building for hours; however, the sound turned out to be construction equipment.
Spokeswomen for the House and Senate sergeant at arms did not return calls for comment.