One U.S. Capitol Police officer is dead and another is hospitalized with injuries after an apparent attack at a Capitol checkpoint, in which a man rammed his car into officers and lunged at them with a knife, police said.
The suspect — who has since been pronounced dead — entered the North barricade of the Capitol just after 1 p.m. ET, ramming his car into two officers and then crashing into a barrier, Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said at a briefing.
Officers engaged the suspect, she added, but he did not respond to verbal commands. He exited the vehicle and began “lunging” toward police with a knife visible in his hand, at which point officers fired their weapons, killing the suspect.
The two officers were transported to two hospitals, and Pittman said one of them had succumbed to his injuries. She did not provide additional details, saying next of kin have yet to be notified.
“This has been an extremely difficult time for U.S. Capitol Police after the events of January 6, and now after the events that have occurred here today,” she said. “So I ask that you keep our U.S. Capitol Police family in your thoughts and prayers.”
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Video from reporters at the scene posted on Twitter appeared to show a car that had crashed into a barrier. In the videos, at least two people were carried on stretchers into waiting ambulances.
The U.S. Capitol was placed under lockdown amid what Capitol Police described as “an external security threat.”
No entry or exit is being permitted, and police said: “If you are outside, seek cover.”
The incident occurred as both the House and Senate were in recess, though both buildings have staff – and reporters — working inside. Several lawmakers took to Twitter to share thoughts and prayers for those at the building as the situation unfolded.
President Biden was in Camp David, Md., when the incident took place, according to the White House.
A statement from the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department said: “A call came in at approximately 1:05 pm to the unit block of Constitution Ave, NE, for the report of a possible shooting.” MPD provided no other details.
The FBI’s Washington, D.C., field office said it had “responded to an incident at the U.S. Capitol” and is providing support to Capitol Police.
The D.C. National Guard said it deployed a quick reaction force, comprising National Guard soldiers and airmen, to the Capitol complex to support the U.S. Capitol Police.
Attorney General Merrick Garland “has been briefed on the incident … and is actively monitoring the situation,” tweeted Anthony Coley, a Justice Department spokesman.
The incident comes less than three months after the Jan. 6 riot that exposed serious flaws in the Capitol’s security apparatus.
The most senior officer with the Minneapolis Police Department testified Friday that Derek Chauvin’s actions in the arrest of George Floyd were “totally unnecessary” and that a handcuffed person does not pose the level of threat that a “top tier” use of force would warrant.
Lt. Richard Zimmerman, the supervisor of the department’s homicide unit, testified in Chauvin’s murder trial Friday morning that he saw no reason why the four officers who arrested Floyd “felt they were in danger.”
“Pulling him down to the ground face down and putting your knee on a neck for that amount of time is just uncalled for,” Zimmerman said.
Chauvin, a white 19-year veteran of the department, pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for several minutes.
Zimmerman added he believed the restraint of Floyd should have stopped once he was handcuffed and prone on the ground.
He also said that in his more than 30 years with the Minneapolis Police Department he had never been trained to put his knee on someone’s neck who has handcuffed behind their back and lying in the prone position to restrain them.
Zimmerman told prosecutors such an action would be considered the “top tier” use of force, or “deadly force” because “if your knee is on a person’s neck, that can kill them.”
The lieutenant said he had been taught that once suspects are handcuffed and lying on the ground they should be placed on their side to help with breathing.
“Once you secure or handcuff a person, you need to get them out of the prone position as soon as possible because it restricts their breathing,” he said.
Zimmerman said that, according to his training, once a person is handcuffed, “that person is your responsibility, his safety is your responsibility.”
“Once a person is cuffed, the threat level goes down all the way,” he said.
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He also testified that if a person becomes less combative, that changes the amount of force an officer should use.
Zimmerman was one of the Minneapolis police officers who signed a letter in June condemning Chauvin’s actions.
During cross-examination of Zimmerman, Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, repeated a point he had made during previous testimony by law enforcement, that there are circumstances where an unconscious person can become combative after being revived and certain situations require “improvisation.” Nelson also said investigators were less likely to encounter use-of-force situations than officers on patrols.
Zimmerman was one of two law enforcement officers to testify on Friday, the fifth day of the trial.
The first officer, Sgt. Jon Edwards, testified that he was called to secure the scene of Floyd’s fatal interaction with police because it “had the potential to be a possible critical incident.”
Edwards said a critical incident refers to a police incident where an officer or person has died or “has suffered great bodily harm that later led to death.”
He said he did not know Chauvin was involved in the incident at the time.
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (CBS12) — A 27-year-old teacher at Grove Park Elementary School is behind bars for soliciting and traveling to meet a 2-year-old, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said.
Xavier Donte Alexander, who teaches fourth grade, was arrested Thursday and will appear in court Friday morning. According to Alexander’s LinkedIn profile, he’s been teaching at Grove Park for six months and has been an employee for the Palm Beach County School District since 2012.
Temporary fencing that had been erected around the Capitol’s outer perimeter was removed late last month, though temporary fencing remains in place closer to the building. The crash occurred at an access checkpoint to the Capitol.
Capitol Police have said that a reduced perimeter will stay up while it works with “congressional stakeholders and law enforcement partners to strengthen our security posture.”
NPR congressional correspondent Claudia Grisales reports that there has been considerable concern among lawmakers from both parties about the prospect of making the fencing permanent.
NPR Deputy Washington Editor Krishnadev Calamur contributed reporting.
This is a developing story. Some facts reported by the media may later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.