By MICHAEL BALSAMO and COLLEEN LONG
WASHINGTON (AP) — A man rammed a car into two Capitol Police officers at a barricade outside the U.S. Capitol on Friday afternoon before being shot to death by authorities when he got out of the vehicle while holding what appeared to be a knife, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press.
Both Capitol Police officers were taken to the hospital, with at least one in serious condition, the officials said. The suspect died at a hospital.
The crash and shooting happened at a security checkpoint near the Capitol as Congress is on recess. It comes as the Washington region remains on edge nearly three months after a mob of armed insurrectionists stormed the Capitol as Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden’s presidential win.
Five people died in the Jan. 6 riot, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who was among a badly outnumbered force trying to fight off insurrectionists who supported former President Donald Trump’s bid to overturn the election. Authorities installed a tall perimeter fence around the Capitol and for months restricted traffic along the roads closest to the building, but they have begun pulling back some of the emergency measures in recent weeks.
While there was no immediate connection apparent between Jan. 6 and Friday’s crash, the incident underscores that the building and campus remain potential targets for violence. It occurred about 100 yards (91 meters) from the entrance of the building on the Senate side of the Capitol.
The security checkpoint is typically used by senators and staff on weekdays, but lawmakers are away for recess. Fencing that prevented vehicular traffic near that area was recently removed.
Capitol Police said that someone rammed a vehicle into two of its officers. The law enforcement officials told the AP that the driver then got out of the car with what appeared to be a knife. It’s unclear which member of law enforcement shot the suspect.
The officials initially said the suspect was being taken to the hospital in critical condition. One of the officers who was injured was taken by police car to the hospital; the other was being transported by emergency medical crews, the officials said.
The officials could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
The U.S. Capitol complex was placed on lockdown after the shooting and staff were told they could not enter or exit buildings. Video showed National Guard troops mobilizing near the area of the crash.
Video posted online showed a dark colored sedan crashed against a vehicle barrier and a police K-9 inspecting the vehicle. Law enforcement and paramedics could be seen caring for at least one unidentified individual.
President Biden had just departed the White House for Camp David when the incident occurred. As customary, he was traveling with a member of the National Security Council Staff who was expected to brief him on the incident.