WASHINGTON — A man died early Sunday near the US Capitol building after driving his car into a barricade and firing shots into the air before turning his gun on himself, police said.
A statement from the US Capitol Police (USCP) did not identify the man or speculate on a motive.
The incident happened just before 4 a.m. at a vehicle barricade set at East Capitol Street NE and 2nd Street SE in Washington
It occurred amid heightened tensions and violence-filled chatter on social media following the FBI’s surprise seizure of several boxes of classified government documents from former president Donald Trump’s Florida resort estate.
Law enforcement authorities across the country are facing an increasing number of threats and federal officials have warned about the potential of violent attacks on government buildings
The Supreme Court, still behind security fencing after its bitterly divisive June ruling on abortion, is also nearby on Capitol Hill.
The attack is reminiscent of an incident when a man drove a vehicle into two Capitol Police officers at a checkpoint in April 2021, killing an 18-year veteran of the force. And many on Capitol Hill remain on edge after supporters of the then-president stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Authorities said the man, identified as Richard A. York III, 29, of Delaware, crashed into the barricade and that as he was getting out of the car, the vehicle became engulfed in flames. The man then opened fire, firing several shots into the air as police approached.
“While the man was getting out of the car, it became engulfed in flames,” USCP said.
“The man then fired several shots into the air.”
When officers responded to the sound of gunfire and approached the man, “he shot himself,” police said.
No one else was hurt.
Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said officers did not hear the man say anything before he opened fire “indiscriminately” in the street with a handgun and walked toward the Capitol building. Authorities are investigating whether the man may have set his car on fire, the chief said, because the collision did not appear to cause the blaze.
Police officers at the scene saw the man fatally shoot himself as they approached, Manger said.
Police said “it does not appear the man was targeting any member of Congress” and that investigators are examining the man’s background as they work to try to discern a motive. Both the House and Senate are in recess and very few staff members work in the Capitol complex at that hour.
The DC Metropolitan Police Department is leading an investigation into the man and his background.
The chief said investigators located addresses for the man in Delaware and Pennsylvania and learned he had a criminal history in the past decade, though his motive remained unclear and he had no links to the Capitol. Manger said authorities were waiting to notify the man’s next of kin.
“We don’t have any information that would indicate his motivation at this point,” Manger said.
Authorities said no other injuries were reported and police do not believe any officers returned fire.