US Capitol shooting suspect in custody, injuries unclear
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US Capitol shooting suspect in custody, injuries unclear

Swirling reports indicate police officer or gunman may have been injured during incident at visitors center; areas locked down and staff and visitors told to take shelter

Emergency personnel respond during a lock down after shots were reportedly fired at the US Capitol Visitor Center March 28, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP)
Emergency personnel respond during a lock down after shots were reportedly fired at the US Capitol Visitor Center March 28, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP)

WASHINGTON — A gunman was taken into custody after firing shots in the US Capitol complex on Monday, Capitol officials said, and visitors and staff were shut in their offices and told to “shelter in place.”

Initial reports said a police officer sustained minor injuries, but later reports raised doubts about who, if anyone, was shot.

CNN and MSNBC reported that the suspect had been shot and taken to a hospital.

According to MSNBC, the incident occured after a person pulled out what seemed to be a gun at the entrance to the visitors center.

Police cordoned off access to the Capitol building during the incident. An ambulance was at the scene.

The event unfolded with Congress on recess and lawmakers back in their districts.

The White House was briefly put on lockdown, but that was soon lifted. A notification sent to Senate offices said no further suspects appeared to be at large, and most Capitol Hill buildings were later re-opened for business.

“There has been an isolated incident at the US Capitol. There is no active threat to the public,” Washington police said on Twitter.

The shooting occurred in the Visitors Center of the sprawling Capitol complex. Staffers, reporters and others were told to “shelter in place” while the incident was being investigated.

A US Secret Service agent stands guard at the White House in Washington, DC, on March 28, 2016. (AFP / Nicholas Kamm)
A US Secret Service agent stands guard at the White House in Washington, DC, on March 28, 2016. (AFP / Nicholas Kamm)

Visitors were being turned away from the Capitol as emergency vehicles flooded the street and the plaza on the building’s eastern side. Police, some carrying long guns, cordoned off the streets immediately around the building, which were thick with tourists visiting for spring holidays and the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Cathryn Leff of Temicula, California, in town to lobby with the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, said she was going through security at the main entrance to the Capitol Visitors Center when police told people to leave immediately.

Outside, on the plaza just to the east of the Capitol, other officers told those there to “get down behind this wall,” she said. “I heard what sounded like two shots off to my left.” After a while police told her and others to keep running. “I felt like I was in a movie. It didn’t feel real at all.”

Traffic was jammed in the vicinity, but despite the obvious emergency the scene was relatively calm. A work crew on the north side of the Supreme Court, across the street, was asked to stop work and move away from the building as a precaution.

Capitol Police did not immediately return calls seeking clarification about the incident.

From back home in their districts many lawmakers got in touch with staff to ensure all were safe, and posted thanks on Twitter as it appeared they were.

Earlier in the day, officials conducted an unrelated shelter-in-place drill at the Capitol.

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