A Capitol Police officer died Friday after a vehicle "rammed" into a barricade outside the U.S. Capitol complex. The suspect, who was shot by police, also died.
Acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said that an unidentified male suspect slammed his car into two officers, exited the car with a knife in his hand and "lunged" toward them. He was shot by police and taken into custody. All three were transported to the hospital, Pittman said.
"It is with a heavy heart that I announce one of our officers has succumbed to his injuries," she said at a press briefing Friday afternoon. The other officer remains hospitalized.
Hours after the news conference, Pittman released a statement identifying the officer who had been killed as William Evans.
“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," Pittman said in the statement. "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.”
President Biden ordered U.S. flags to be lowered to half-mast to honor Evans, and released a statement.
"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," Biden, who was spending the weekend at Camp David, said. "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."
NBC News and the New York Times identified the suspect in the attack as Noah R. Green, 25. Based on the postings to a Facebook page purportedly belonging to Green which was taken down by the company Friday afternoon, he was a self-described admirer of Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam.
Pittman did not release the identity of the suspect.
"I just ask that the public continue to keep USCP and their families in their prayers," she said at Friday's news conference. "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.”
Pittman said there was no indication that the suspect had made threats to any specific members of Congress, and "there does not appear to be an ongoing threat" at this time. The suspect was not known to police, and the attack does not appear to be related to terrorism, she said.
The incident began shortly after 1 p.m. ET, when the Capitol was placed on lockdown “due to an external security threat.”
A message played over the loudspeakers inside the Capitol complex said that all buildings were being locked down, and staff members were told they could not enter or exit the buildings. Video shared on social media showed a helicopter landing at the Capitol.
Other footage showed National Guard troops marching toward the Capitol. Some were then seen surrounding roadblocks that had previously been installed on Capitol Hill.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement Friday evening praising Evans and the Capitol Police.
"Today, America's heart has been broken by the tragic and heroic death of one of our Capitol Police heroes: Officer William Evans. He is a martyr for our democracy," Pelosi said.
Tensions in Washington have remained high in the wake of the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died during that assault. Trump was impeached for his role in inciting the riot, and a number of resignations followed, including the Capitol Police chief and the sergeants-at-arms of both the House and Senate.
In early March, the House recessed early after Capitol Police said it had discovered evidence of a "possible plot" against legislators tied to the same far-right conspiracy theorists who helped spark the Jan. 6 violence.
Over the last few weeks political pressure has grown for Pelosi to remove protective fencing erected in the aftermath of the attack. Outer fencing around the Capitol came down over the weekend. An "inner perimeter fence" around the Capitol building is still in place.
Neither the U.S. Senate nor the House of Representatives was in session Friday, as Congress is in recess.
Pelosi ordered the flags at the Capitol to be flown at half-staff in honor of the deceased Capitol Police officer. "The process of lowering the flags may take longer than usual because of the Capitol’s current lockdown status," said Drew Hammill, Pelosi's deputy chief of staff.
David Knowles and Christopher Wilson contributed reporting to this story.
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