One Capitol Police officer was killed and another was injured after a car rammed one of the barriers surrounding the Capitol complex on Friday, forcing the area into a lockdown, with police fatally shooting the suspect.
Police said a vehicle ran into two officers. A suspect exited the car with a knife and started "lunging" toward police, who then fired on the man, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said at a briefing.
"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," she said.
Capitol Police identified the officer who was killed as William Evans, a member of the Capitol Police force for 18 years. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who ordered flags to fly at half-staff to honor the slain officer, called Evans "a martyr for our democracy."
“Members of Congress, staff and Capitol workers, and indeed all Americans are united in appreciation for the courage of the U.S. Capitol Police. Today, once again, these heroes risked their lives to protect our Capitol and our Country, with the same extraordinary selflessness and spirit of service seen on January 6. On behalf of the entire House, we are profoundly grateful," she said in a statement.
Police said they will continue to investigate the motive behind the attack. Police have not yet publicly confirmed the identity of the suspect, though multiple media reports have identified him as 25-year-old Noah Green, an Indiana man who was an apparent follower of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. It's unclear who fired at Green.
Capitol Police said Friday evening that the second officer who was hit by the car was in stable and non-threatening condition.
“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 III 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," he said.
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.”
The acting police chief previously told lawmakers that threats against members of Congress have nearly doubled in the past year.
National Guard troops responded to the automobile attack on Friday and were seen in videos shared on social media lining up with their shields at various intersections near the Capitol. Capitol Police also closed streets surrounding the complex, blocking intersections that were previously closed by prior fencing.
A number of National Guard members have been patrolling the Capitol since the deadly Jan. 6 riot and about 2,300 National Guardsmen remain in D.C.
"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 on Friday.
At 1:44 p.m. National Guard troops responded to the North Barricade entrance of the Capitol where USCP reports a car struck two officers pic.twitter.com/etTT5M0Wn3— Lindsey McPherson (@lindsemcpherson) April 2, 2021
As the scene was unfolding early Friday afternoon, a Fox News reporter said two people were seen on stretchers outside the Capitol, and a helicopter was spotted landing in the area to respond to the incident.
Appears that a car smashed into the barrier. Two people are on stretchers. Can’t see whether it’s an officer or civilian pic.twitter.com/Ud5WYGyKFu— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) April 2, 2021
A helicopter just landed on the east front of the Capitol. I’ve never seen anything like this before. ever. pic.twitter.com/LxV0mywRSe— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) April 2, 2021
Capitol Police sent out a notice shortly after the attack saying there was an “external security threat.” No one was allowed to enter or leave the building and staff was advised to stay away from doors and windows. The Capitol lockdown was lifted shortly after 3 p.m. after officers concluded their press conference.
The incident comes as U.S. intelligence agencies warned the nation remains at an elevated risk for domestic terror attacks, with a report issued last month warning of the threat posed by lone-wolf attacks.
Security fencing surrounding the Capitol has also been reduced in recent weeks. Just nine days ago, security forces finished removing the outer perimeter fencing that had been surrounding the complex, leaving just the fencing that closely circles the main Capitol building.
Numerous lawmakers in recent weeks have questioned the need for the fencing as well as the continued National Guard presence, though Friday's attack will force members to revisit the issue.
"I think we'll be reviewing everything at this point, including the fencing with the big concern I know for a lot of people [being] these kind of lone-wolf attacks,” said Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanTwo senior House Democrats to retire Democratic retirements could make a tough midterm year even worse Tim Ryan's campaign raises .5 million in third quarter MORE (D-Ohio), who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee responsible for the legislative branch.
"I recognize that the fence is a disturbance, it's an eyesore. It sucks. Nobody wants that there. But the question is, is the environment safe enough to be able to take it down?" Ryan said, adding that in the meantime it could "prevent some of these things from happening."
Ryan’s subcommittee is leading an investigation into the response to the Jan. 6 attack and has called for adding 1,000 officers to the Capitol Police force, which was stretched thin by an inauguration, requiring even tighter security and long shifts to monitor the Capitol following the riots.
Friday's incident took place on the Senate side of the Capitol by a security station near an entrance frequently used by lawmakers and their staff. Congress is in recess this week.
"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 McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (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 KlobucharAmy KlobucharGOP blocks Senate Democrats' revised elections bill Progressives push back on decision to shrink Biden's paid family leave program The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Biden holds meetings to resurrect his spending plan MORE (D-Minn.) said in a statement.
The officer's death Friday is the third within Capitol Police ranks since the beginning of this year, after Officer Brian Sicknick died in the line of duty during the Jan. 6 riot. Another officer, Howard Liebengood, died by suicide in the days after the Capitol insurrection.
“Please keep the United States Capitol Police family in your thoughts and prayers at this time. It has been an extremely difficult and challenging year for us,” Pittman said Friday.
– This story was last updated at 8:28 p.m.