Suspect in custody after shooting scare at Capitol; no officers hurt
U.S. Capitol Police on Monday shot a man who appeared to draw a weapon and point it at officers at a security checkpoint, according to police chief Matthew Verderosa.
The suspect was taken into custody and has been transported to a local hospital for treatment. A weapon was recovered at the scene.
Verderosa said no officers were hurt, though a female bystander suffered minor injuries. Police believe the man acted alone and that there is no reason to suspect terrorism.
The police chief did not provide the suspect’s name, but said he is someone known to Capitol police.
CNN and local media outlets in Tennesse have identified the suspect as Larry Russell Dawson, who was previously arrested last year for interrupting the House. A court last year ordered Dawson to stay away from the Capitol, according to The Associated Press.
CNN: Capitol Hill suspect IDed as Larry Russell Dawson, 66. In Oct. incident he disrupted House chamber claiming to be ‘Prophet of God.’
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) March 28, 2016
— Andrew Kirell (@AndrewKirell) March 28, 2016
The shooting incident spurred a chaotic lockdown of the Capitol complex, with staffers given a stay-in-place order while tourists in the area were told to flee.
The shelter-in-place order has now been lifted, though the Capitol Visitors Center, where the incident took place, remains closed.
Washington Metropolitan Police declared on Twitter that the incident was “isolated” and did not present an “active threat to the public.”
The sounds of shots being fired set off a panic at the Capitol.
Police could be heard telling tourists to run away. Other staffers said they left the complex and ran outside when they couldn’t get back into their offices due to the shelter-in-place warning.
One family visiting Washington was outside the Supreme Court and told The Hill they heard someone shooting at the Capitol.
“We heard screams,” said a woman who declined to give her name.
One other woman claimed on Twitter that she was going through security in the Capitol Visitors Center when shots went off, creating a “scramble” for safety.
Marium Baker was in the Senate chamber with her two children, ages 9 and 11, when the incident occurred. They were held on the balcony for roughly an hour, she said, following the order to “shelter in place.” Capitol police counted heads, escorted folks on bathroom breaks and provided updates with “what they could, what they knew.”
“They were very helpful, they were very kind,” said Baker, who was visiting from Illinois through Sen. Dick Durbin’s (D-Ill.) office.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in a statement praised Capitol police for their “courage and daily sacrifice.”
“This evening our thoughts and prayers are with all those who faced danger today. While the investigation of the incident continues, I want to express my deep gratitude, on behalf of the whole House, to the men and women in uniform who keep us safe,” Ryan said.
The White House also went into lockdown during the incident. Entrances to the White House were shut down and the north and south fence lines were cleared as a “precautionary measure,” according to Secret Service spokesman Robert Hoback.
The lockdown, which was later lifted, occurred as thousands of children and guests were welcomed on to the White House’s South Lawn for the annual Easter Egg Roll.
Congress is in recess this week, but thousands of staffers are working in the Capitol. It is also a busy season for tourism, with the city’s famous cherry blossom trees in full bloom.
—Updated at 5:43 p.m. The Hill staff contributed.
The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.