National Security

Woman with baseball bat bites Capitol Police officer on West Front

A woman carrying a baseball bat near the Capitol's West Front on Friday morning "became combative" and bit a Capitol Police officer, the department said.

According to the Capitol Police, a woman identified as Olivia Romano, 25, "appeared agitated" and "started yelling at our officers" around 9:30 a.m. Romano allegedly then attacked the Capitol Police officers who tried to take the baseball bat from her. 

"When she raised the bat, the officers attempted to take it. In that moment, the woman became combative and bit one of the officers," the Capitol Police said in a statement to The Hill. 

Romano is in custody and charges are pending. A motive for her actions has not yet been identified. 

Friday's incident is the latest in a growing string of security scares on the Capitol campus this year in a community that has remained on edge since the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Last week, the Capitol Police removed a man from a vehicle parked illegally in front of the Supreme Court after he refused to engage with police officers. The suspect, identified as Dale Paul Melvin, 55, of Kimball, Mich., was arrested on suspicion of failure to obey and assault on a police officer. 

Capitol Police also said that Melvin previously came to the Capitol complex in August "and made concerning statements." 

And in August, another man illegally parked his car in front of the Library of Congress and claimed he had a bomb. The man livestreamed the tense five-hour standoff with law enforcement from his car and made statements criticizing President Biden and other Democrats.

Weeks later, on Sept. 13, the Capitol Police arrested a man who had a bayonet and machete in his pickup truck, which had white supremacist symbols on it, outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters near the Capitol.

Friday's incident is the third time this year that a Capitol Police officer has been attacked. 

In April, a man rammed his car into a security barricade on the Senate side of the Capitol, which killed Capitol Police Officer William "Billy" Evans and injured another officer.

More than 140 Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police officers were injured during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol when a mob of former President Trump's supporters tried to stop Congress from ratifying the election results. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who had engaged with the mob, died the day after Jan. 6, while another officer, Howard Liebengood, died of suicide days later.

The recurring threats of violence this year have taken a significant toll on Capitol Police morale and retention. Nearly 100 officers have retired or left the department since Jan. 6, according to the Capitol Police union.

"Officers are operating in a high threat environment right now. Unfortunately, this is our new normal and many officers are struggling with the enormous amounts of overtime they are required to work. We simply do not have enough officers to meet mission requirements. Congress is going to address officer recruitment and retention immediately because our current situation is not sustainable," Capitol Police union chairman Gus Papathanasiou said in a statement on Friday.

-Updated at 4:15 p.m.

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