Police in Maryland's Prince George's County have arrested the driver who skirted Capitol Hill on State of the Union night in a high-speed chase.
District Heights, Md., Police Chief Elliott W. Gibson said officers arrested the man — who entered the District via the John Phillip Sousa Bridge in a white Crown Victoria, passed through 17 traffic lights at speeds of up to 80 mph, and came to a stop in traffic on a street adjacent to the Rayburn House Office Building — on Jan. 23, around 11:33 p.m.
The head of the Capitol Police union apologized to Gibson and his officers on Monday for failing to make the arrest on Jan. 20.
"Although the Department claims the suspect was not a threat to the Capitol, and that our primary mission was to protect Congress, we take exception with their position," James Konczos, chairman of the Capitol Police Labor Committee, said in a two-page statement. Konczos is comparing the incident to the controversy surrounding the response to the 2013 Navy Yard shooting, and hopes Congress will step in to investigate.
"The United States Secret Service recently underwent an organizational restructuring not only for publicly embarrassing episodes, but for the continued security breaches and an absence of leadership," Konczos stated. "We believe the Capitol Police are at that crossroad, there is too much at stake to allow the Department to continue down this path."
Senate Rules Chairman Roy Blunt, R-Mo., told CQ Roll Call on Friday that his staff is taking a very close look at the incident.
A spokesperson for the GOP majority on the House Administration Committee, which has oversight of management of Capitol Police and the House sergeant-at-arms, responded with a single sentence to an inquiry about the order not to arrest the suspect, despite witnessing violations of multiple traffic laws and operating the car without a driver's license.
Chairman Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., "is kept up-to-date on the status of security of our Capitol complex," communications director Erin McCracken said in an email.
According to sources on the scene, the driver made a U-turn on Washington Avenue Southwest, and came to a stop in traffic around 9:38 p.m., within Capitol Police jurisdiction, but outside of the "hardened perimeter" established to protect dignitaries inside the Capitol.
Capitol Police maintain he was not a threat to Congress. The department did not respond to multiple inquiries and requests for comment on Monday.
Four officers from different jurisdictions attempted to remove the driver from the car, eventually tackling him to the ground. He was placed in handcuffs and frisked for weapons. It is unclear which officer placed the suspect in handcuffs.
At 10:06 p.m., four minutes before the president's speech concluded, House offices received an alert of ongoing police activity, in a message warning that the southbound lane of Washington Avenue was closed to traffic.
"The U.S. Capitol Police and the House Sergeant at Arms are aware of and are monitoring the situation," the alert, obtained by CQ Roll Call, stated. "Details will be provided as they become available and as the situation warrants."
As more details have emerged, House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving has not responded to multiple requests for comment on the situation. Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Frank Larkin referred questions to Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine.
The suspect was presented to a District Court Commissioner in Maryland. Numerous charges are pending for numerous violations of the traffic laws, Gibson stated. The police chief did not provide the suspect's name, and details on the charges were not immediately available.
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