Politics

Shots Fired Near Capitol Building

Traffic incident near Botanic Gardens involved gunshots

Capitol Police responded Wednesday morning to an incident on Independence Avenue SW in Washington, D.C. next to the Botanic Gardens and near the Rayburn House Office Building. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Capitol Police walkie talkies started blaring “shots fired” shortly before 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, a jarring start to the workday as members of Congress, staffers and visitors arrived at the Capitol grounds. 

A Capitol Police source said there was a traffic incident that involved gunshots being fired. The source said no one was injured and the suspect was in custody as of 9:40 am. The source also said there was damage to a police cruiser.

Capitol Police spokeswoman Eva Malecki told reporters the incident appeared to be criminal in nature with no terrorism connection.

She identified the suspect as a female who had been observed driving erratically, nearly striking Capitol Police officials while making a U-turn. The suspect did strike another vehicle.

The driver of the vehicle is named Taleah Everett, first reported by NBC News and confirmed by a source with knowledge of the incident. NBC reported Everett is a 20 year-old District of Columbia resident. 

Malecki said in an evening update that Everett was charged with seven counts of assault on a police officer; two counts of destruction of property; fleeing; leaving after colliding; and no valid permit. Malecki also said Everett did not have a fixed address.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said the suspect’s first appearance in D.C. Superior Court would likely occur Thursday afternoon.

Malecki said that at 9:22 a.m., “officers observed an erratic and aggressive driver” and that “while attempting to stop the vehicle on Independence Avenue, the driver made a U-turn and fled the scene nearly striking officers and struck at least one other vehicle. The vehicle was stopped at Washington and Independence Avenue Southwest.”

Malecki said Capitol Police officers fired shots when officers attempted to take the suspect into custody, but no one was injured. The suspect was arrested transported to Capitol Police headquarters for processing. The incident is being investigated by the department’s Criminal Investigations and the Office of Professional Responsibility. 

Capitol groundskeepers said shots were fired near Rayburn along Independence after police cars responded to that location.

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At around 9:30 am the Metropolitan Police Department received a call to their dispatch center relating to activity at the 100 block of Independence Avenue Southwest. According to an MPD spokesperson, a driver struck a Capitol Police cruiser and tried running over several officers who were on foot. Capitol Police fired shots but no one was hit.

At 9:47 a.m., the House sent out an alert to its employees stating: “There is ongoing police activity at the intersection of Washington and Independence Avenues Southwest. The following road closure is in effect: Independence Avenue between Washington Avenue Southwest and First Street Southeast.

Police mark shell casings on Independence Avenue near the U.S. Capitol after a woman nearly hit U.S. Capitol Police officers, which resulted in an officer firing shots. on Wednesday morning, March 29, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Police mark shell casings on Independence Avenue near the U.S. Capitol after a woman nearly hit U.S. Capitol Police officers, which resulted in an officer firing shots. on Wednesday morning, March 29, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Just before 10 a.m., yellow police tape could be seen cordoning off an area near the Botanic Garden, with several police cars parked, lights flashing, and Capitol Police officers patrolling on foot.

The Rayburn House Office Building entrance on Independence Avenue, often teeming with lobbyists and staffers trying to make morning meetings, was mostly empty.

Instead, the area was cleared out save for a few police officers with long guns, a news photographer crouched beneath one framing a shot.

A man in a suit exiting the building looked around him, seemingly unaware of what had occurred.

Walking through a security entrance to the full House chamber, across from Rayburn, a reporter asked Capitol Police what happened.

“Can’t talk about it,” an officer said, giving the reporter’s bag an extra scan.

Shortly before 10 a.m., the Metropolitan Police Department sent out an alert that stated the following streets were closed due to police activity: Independence Avenue between Washington Avenue to 1st Street Southwest, and that the area should be avoided.

Andrew Siddons, Kerry Young, Ed Pesce, Kellie Mejdrich, Greg Tourial, Bridget Bowman, Doug Sword, Niels Lesniewski, Jennifer Shutt and Jason Dick contributed to this story.

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