WASHINGTON (AP/WJW) — A Capitol Police officer was killed Friday after a man rammed a car into two officers at a barricade outside the U.S. Capitol and then emerged wielding a knife. It was the second line-of-duty death this year for a department still struggling to heal from the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Video shows the driver of the crashed car emerging with a knife in his hand and starting to run at the pair of officers, Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman told reporters. The driver stabbed one of the officers, Pittman said. Authorities shot the suspect, who died at a hospital.
“I just ask that the public continue to keep U.S. Capitol Police and their families in your prayers,” Pittman said. “This has been an extremely difficult time for U.S. Capitol Police after the events of Jan. 6 and now the events that have occurred here today.”
Capitol Police identified the officer who was killed as Officer William ‘Billy’ Evans. Acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman released the following statement:
“It is with profound sadness that I share the news of the passing of Officer William ‘Billy’ Evans this afternoon from injuries he sustained following an attack at the North Barricade by a lone assailant. Officer Evans had been a member of the United States Capitol Police for 18 years. He began his USCP service on March 7, 2003, and was a member of the Capitol Division’s First Responder’s Unit. Please keep Officer Evans and his family in your thoughts and prayers.”
Authorities said that there wasn’t an ongoing threat and that the attack did not appear to be related to terrorism, though the Capitol was put on lockdown as a precaution. There was also no immediate connection apparent between Friday’s crash and the Jan. 6 riot.
Authorities held a press conference at 2:45 p.m. Friday, offering the following updates to citizens:
LIVE BLOG (Archived)
- Police are conducting an investigation into the incident, including the death of the suspect.
- Police say there does not appear to be an ongoing threat at this time.
- Officials say one officer was killed during the incident. Another officer was injured.
- Authorities will continue their investigation but at this time the car attack on officers is not believed to be related to terrorism.
The crash and shooting happened at a security checkpoint near the Capitol typically used by senators and staff on weekdays, though most are away from the building during the current recess. The attack occurred about 100 yards (91 meters) from the entrance of the building on the Senate side of the Capitol. One witness, the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, said he was finishing a Good Friday service nearby when he suddenly heard three shots ring out.
It comes as the Washington region remains on edge nearly three months after a mob of armed insurrectionists loyal to former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol as Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden’s presidential win.
President Biden released the following statement Friday:
“Jill and I were heartbroken to learn of the violent attack at a security checkpoint on the U.S. Capitol grounds, which killed Officer William Evans of the U.S. Capitol Police, and left a fellow officer fighting for his life. We send our heartfelt condolences to Officer Evans’ family, and everyone grieving his loss. We know what a difficult time this has been for the Capitol, everyone who works there, and those who protect it.
I have been receiving ongoing briefings from my Homeland Security Advisor, and will be getting further updates as the investigation proceeds.
I want to express the nation’s gratitude to the Capitol Police, the National Guard Immediate Response Force, and others who quickly responded to this attack. As we mourn the loss of yet another courageous Capitol Police officer, I have ordered that the White House flags be lowered to half-mast.”
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 seeking 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 had begun pulling back some of the emergency measures in recent weeks. Fencing that prevented vehicular traffic near that area was recently removed.
Pittman said the suspect did not appear to have been on the police’s radar. But the attack underscores that the building and campus — and the officers charged with protecting them — remain potential targets for violence.
The officer who died Friday is the seventh Capitol Police member to die in the line of duty in the department’s history. Two officers, one from Capitol Police and another from Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, died by suicide following the Jan. 6 attack.
The suspect had been 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 transported by emergency medical crews.
The U.S. Capitol complex was placed on lockdown after the shooting, and staffers 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 Joe Biden had just departed the White House for Camp David when the attack occurred. As customary, he was traveling with a member of the National Security Council Staff who was expected to brief him on the incident.