Overnight Defense: 1 officer dead, 1 injured after car rams Capitol barrier | Army suspends multiple service members over sexual assault allegations
Happy Friday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I’m Ellen Mitchell, and here’s your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. CLICK HERE to subscribe to the newsletter.
THE TOPLINE: DC National Guard deploys after car rams Capitol barrier
One Capitol Police officer was killed and another was injured after a car rammed into one of the barriers surrounding the Capitol complex on Friday, forcing the area into a lockdown, with police fatally shooting a single suspect.
Police said a vehicle rammed into two officers. A suspect exited the vehicle with a knife and started “lunging” toward officers, who then fired on the person, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said at a briefing Friday afternoon.
“He did not respond to verbal commands. The suspect did start lunging toward U.S. Capitol Police officers, at which time U.S. Capitol Police officers fired upon the suspect,” she said.
“The suspect has been pronounced deceased. Two U.S. 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.”
Scarce details: Capitol Police later identified the officer who died as William “Billy” Evans. DC police said they will continue to investigate the motive behind the attack.
“It does not appear to be terrorism-related, but obviously we’ll continue to investigate to see if there’s some type of nexus,” acting Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said of the attack.
“Whoever or whatever, we just don’t know right now, so we have a responsibility to investigate that to get to the bottom of this, whether the attack was at law enforcement or whoever, we have a responsibility to get to the bottom of it.”
Pittman said the suspect was not previously known to Capitol Police “so there’s no indication at this time that there’s any nexus to any member of Congress.”
Growing threats: The acting police chief previously told lawmakers that threats against members of Congress have nearly doubled in the past year.
National Guard response: National Guard troops responded to the incident on Friday and were seen in videos shared on social media lining up with their shields at various intersections near the Capitol.
“The DC National Guard deployed a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) composed of National Guard soldiers and airmen to the Capitol complex this afternoon to support the U.S. Capitol Police. Due to operational security, we cannot discuss further details regarding the QRF,” the D.C. National Guard said in a statement to The Hill, adding no guardsmen were injured in the incident.
A number of National Guard members have been patrolling the Capitol since the deadly Jan. 6 riot and about 2,300 National Guard troops remain in D.C.
Lawmaker response: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) ordered flags to fly at half-staff to honor the slain officer.
“Praying for the United States Capitol Police officers who were attacked at the Capitol. We are still learning what’s taken place. Grateful to all the USCP and first responders who are on the scene,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) tweeted.
“The brave men and women of the United States Capitol Police put their lives on the line every day to protect the heart of our democracy. We are hoping and praying for the recovery of those injured in the line of duty,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) added in a statement.
More stories from The Hill on the incident:
— Watch: DC National Guard and Capitol Police respond to security incident
ARMY SUSPENDS MULTIPLE SERVICE MEMBERS AFTER TRAINEE CLAIMS SHE WAS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED
Multiple soldiers who oversee training at Fort Sill, Okla., were suspended this week after they were accused of sexually assaulting a trainee.
An investigation was quickly launched after a female trainee at the base reported the sexual assault, Maj. Gen. Ken Kamper, head of the Fires Center of Excellence at Fort Sill, told reporters Thursday.
“This past Sunday, a soldier assigned to Fort Sill reported she was a victim of sexual assault involving Fort Sill cadre members,” Kamper said. “This information was immediately reported to law enforcement.”
More details: Kamper would not say how many cadre members were suspended, though The Intercept reported that 22 service members from the 1-78 Field Artillery Battalion were involved in multiple alleged assaults of the trainee.
The outlet also reported that video of one incident was circulating at the base and had been obtained by Army investigators.
The incident was first reported by local outlet The Lawton Constitution.
A long history: Sexual violence has been a scourge on the armed forces for decades, with the April 2020 killing of Spc. Vanessa Guillén throwing the issue into stark light.
Guillén was bludgeoned to death at Fort Hood, Texas, after telling her family that she was being sexually harassed by a superior.
Aaron David Robinson, another soldier who was a suspect in her death, killed himself when authorities attempted to arrest him after some of Guillén remains were found at the end of June.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has since declared tackling military sexual assault and harassment as one of his top priorities and in February stood up a 90-day independent review commission on sexual assault in the military.
ON TAP FOR MONDAY
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday will speak to the media as part of the George Washington University Project for Media and National Security at 2:30 p.m.
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