One Capitol Police officer killed, one injured when vehicle rams them at Capitol barricade

"It has been an extremely difficult and challenging year," acting chief says

Capitol Police investigate the scene after a vehicle drove into a security barrier near the U.S. Capitol building on Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Capitol Police investigate the scene after a vehicle drove into a security barrier near the U.S. Capitol building on Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Posted April 2, 2021 at 2:03pm, Updated at 7:15pm

Capitol Police Officer William "Billy" Evans was killed Friday after a man rammed a vehicle into him and another officer and then into a barricade on Constitution Avenue just outside of the Capitol.

The suspect exited the crashed car wielding a knife, ignored commands and lunged toward officers, "at which time U.S. Capitol Police officers fired upon the suspect," acting USCP Chief Yogananda Pittman told reporters.

Capitol Police announced that the suspect was in custody and died after being transported to the hospital.

The other officer, who has not yet been identified, was hospitalized and, according to a 6 p.m. update from Capitol Police, was in stable and nonthreatening condition.

The deadly events sent the Capitol complex into lockdown for about two hours Friday afternoon.

D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee told reporters that the deceased suspect was not known to the Capitol Police and that at this time there is not a known connection to terrorism.

“At this time there does not appear to be an ongoing threat,” Contee said.

The events on Friday add to what has been a deadly year for the USCP, including the death of Officer Brian Sicknick from injuries sustained in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Officer Howard Liebengood died by suicide in the days following Jan. 6 after being on the scene of the insurrection.

“It has been an extremely difficult and challenging year for us,” Pittman said.

Pittman said Evans was an 18-year veteran of the USCP and a member of the first responder unit.

[Capitol security review more imperative following latest deadly attack, Ryan says]

The deadly actions sparked an outpouring of gratitude for Capitol Police and condolences to Evans' family from President Joe Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other leaders. Biden ordered flags at the White House, federal buildings, military installations and other U.S. facilities be flown half-staff, while Pelosi did the same for the Capitol.

"We know what a difficult time this has been for the Capitol, everyone who works there, and those who protect it," Biden said in a statement.

Pelosi said in a statement that Congress is ready to help law enforcement complete a "swift and comprehensive investigation" of Friday's events.

On behalf of lawmakers, staff and workers within the Capitol complex, Pelosi thanked Capitol Police and urged prayers for the fallen officer's family.

“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," she said.

The vehicular attack prompted Capitol Police to hold its first press conference in years, in partnership with the Metropolitan Police Department. The Capitol Police has held no media briefings and did not take any questions publicly from reporters in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The MPD homicide division will take over the investigation, Contee announced.

Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer spoke with Evans' family Friday evening, with an aide to Schumer saying he told them the entire Senate mourns his death and appreciates his bravery.

"On behalf of the House of Representatives, I have conveyed our prayers and condolences to his mother Janice, with our offer of assistance to her and Officer Evans' children Logan and Abigail. I have also conveyed the prayers of the Congress with our ongoing promise of help in any way to the family of the other Officer harmed, who exhibited great valor in defending the Capitol," Pelosi said in a letter members.

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The Capitol complex was mostly quiet on Friday, with Congress on a two-week recess. Then about 1 p.m. the emergency address system blared and email alerts were sent to staff on Capitol Hill telling them of an “external security threat” to all buildings in the Capitol complex.

People inside the Capitol and congressional office buildings were instructed to stay away from windows, but were given the OK to move around within buildings and the tunnels under the Capitol.

“If you are outside, seek cover,” the announcements said.

“We responded to what was reported as a shooting at the United States Capitol,” Vito Maggiolo, spokesman for District of Columbia Fire and EMS, told CQ Roll Call. Maggiolo confirmed that Fire and EMS were transporting two patients, but declined to comment on who they were or their conditions.

A U.S. Park Police helicopter touched down on the East Front of the Capitol after 1:15 p.m. A similar maneuver was practiced on March 30 by Capitol Police and Park Police.

“Someone just got shot” a Capitol Police officer told a reporter at the Capitol, about 25 minutes after the lockdown began.

National Guard troops with clear plastic riot shields ran toward the scene approximately 45 minutes after the initial confrontation.

Personnel from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which is headquartered within a few blocks of the Capitol, also made their way to the scene on Friday.

Capitol Police announced at 2:31 p.m. that the external threat to the complex had been “neutralized,” but that entrance and exit was prohibited “out of an abundance of caution.”

The lockdown was lifted at 3:08 p.m., approximately two hours after it began.

The United States Capitol Police Labor Committee issued a statement as law enforcement briefed reporters, outlining the events and echoing the USCP and MPD chiefs that the motive and intent of the suspect remain unknown.

“Our members are some of the most well trained and professional officers in the country and they will put themselves in harm’s way to protect our Capitol, its occupants, and the seat of democracy itself,” the union’s statement said.

National Guardsmen stand guard on Constitution Avenue, after a man was shot during a confrontation with Capitol Police at the north barricade entrance to the Capitol on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who oversees the House appropriations panel that funds the Capitol Police, told reporters that the events Friday will prompt further evaluation of the Capitol’s security posture. There has been intense scrutiny since Capitol Police were overrun by insurrectionist mobs in the violent attack on Jan. 6.

Thousands of National Guard troops were deployed to protect the Capitol and are expected to be in place until next month.

Late last month, an outer layer of fencing and razor wire was removed in response to Capitol Police and other federal law enforcement agencies reevaluating the threat level — in addition to urging from lawmakers and local residents. But a towering fence closer to the Capitol still remains.

Bridget Bowman and Jim Saksa contributed to this report.