A Capitol Police officer has been suspended in connection with the series of restroom fires that broke out in Senate office buildings over the past three months.
Several law enforcement sources who wished to remain anonymous confirmed on Monday that Officer Karen Emory recently has been suspended in connection with the fires, although details about her involvement, including whether she is a suspect in the case, are not known.
Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider refused to comment on the suspension, other than to say that no charges have been filed. “We don’t discuss personnel issues,” she said. “When there is an ongoing investigation I don’t speak about the details in any fashion.”
The fires broke out in women’s restrooms in the Dirksen and Hart Senate office buildings. All were quickly extinguished by Capitol Police, and no injuries were reported.
Emory is listed as the reporting officer on at least one of the incident reports filed related to the fires.
According to her report filed on Nov. 2, Emory checked the women’s restroom near Room 211 of the Hart building at about 8 a.m. and discovered that two of the toilet paper rolls in the handicapped stall appeared to have been burned.
Investigators were then called and collected evidence, according to the incident report.
Another fire took place a few minutes before in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, the last confirmed day that a Senate-side women’s restroom fire has occurred.
The first fire took place in Hart on Sept. 26, and a second blaze, also in Hart, broke out on Sept. 28.
On Oct. 3, three fires took place in women’s restrooms in the Dirksen and Hart buildings, and on Oct. 31, the two buildings were evacuated after a small fire broke out in a stairwell of the Dirksen basement.
The last confirmed blaze that required police response took place in a Dirksen restroom on Nov. 2, prompting the evacuation of that building.
After the Oct. 3 and Nov. 2 blazes, Capitol Police sent out an e-mail alert to Senate staff, seeking any details about suspicious activities or conversations near the restrooms before the fires broke out.
Tips from the Capitol Hill community have been helpful, Capitol Police Chief Phillip Morse said last week.
After testifying at a Capitol Visitor Center oversight hearing, Morse said the department continued to investigate the blazes and had “great investigators” working the case.
“Arson is a difficult type of crime to solve,” Morse said at the time, adding: “I’m very pleased with the progress that we’ve made.”
Members remained quiet about the investigation on Monday.
House Administration Chairman Robert Brady (D-Pa.) has been briefed on the investigation, according to a spokesman.
“Because the investigation is pending, we are unable to comment further,” spokesman Kyle Anderson said.
A spokeswoman for Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, referred questions to the Capitol Police.
“The Senator is sure the matter will be handled appropriately,” Landrieu spokeswoman Stephanie Allen said.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.