WASHINGTON — One officer was killed and a second injured Friday after a man rammed a car into a barricade outside the US Capitol and then emerged wielding a knife, law enforcement officials said.
The attack forced the Capitol into lockdown less than three months after the mob assault on Congress and was the second line-of-duty death this year for a department still struggling to heal from the January 6 insurrection.
Video showed the driver of the crashed car emerging with a knife in his hand and starting to run at the pair of officers, Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman told reporters. The driver stabbed one of the officers, Pittman said. Authorities shot the suspect, who died at a hospital.
Police identified the slain officer as William “Billy” Evans, an 18-year veteran who was a member of the department’s first responders unit.
— U.S. Capitol Police (@CapitolPolice) April 2, 2021
“I just ask that the public continue to keep US Capitol Police and their families in your prayers,” Pittman said. “This has been an extremely difficult time for US Capitol Police after the events of January 6 and now the events that have occurred here today.”
Multiple US networks identified the dead suspect as 25-year-old Noah Green, a member of the black nationalist Nation of Islam movement led by the anti-Semitic Louis Farrakhan.
In a recent Facebook post, Green spoke of numerous personal problems, saying he was unemployed and had been “tried with some of the biggest, unimaginable tests in my life.” Green said Farrakhan and his faith had been carrying him through.
Exclusive pictured, Noah Green, 25, has been identified as the Capitol Hill attacker pic.twitter.com/8g4pAcRkPz
— Hardly News (@Hardly26375072) April 2, 2021
US President Joe Biden said in a statement he and First Lady Jill Biden were “heartbroken” over the killing of Evans.
“We send our heartfelt condolences to Officer Evans’ family, and everyone grieving his loss. We know what a difficult time this has been for the Capitol, everyone who works there, and those who protect it,” Biden said.
The Bidens were spending the Easter weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat at the time of the attack.
Authorities said that there wasn’t an ongoing threat and that the attack did not appear to be related to terrorism, though the Capitol was put on lockdown as a precaution. There was also no immediate connection apparent between Friday’s crash and the January 6 riot.
Investigators were digging into the suspect’s background and examining whether he had any mental health problems in his history as they tried to discern a motive. They were working to obtain warrants to access his online accounts.
JUST IN – Car smashed into the barrier at US Capitol complex. Two people are on stretchers. pic.twitter.com/OAkmvdrjj8
— Disclose.tv ???? (@disclosetv) April 2, 2021
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered flags lowered to half-mast on the Capitol in the victim’s honor while the Senate’s chief Republican, Mitch McConnell, offered prayers.
“I’m heartbroken for the officer killed today defending our Capitol and for his family. I’m praying for the officer injured and his family,” tweeted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
The crash and shooting happened at a security checkpoint near the Capitol typically used by senators and staff on weekdays, though most are away from the building during the current recess. The attack occurred about 100 yards (91 meters) from the entrance of the building on the Senate side of the Capitol. One witness, the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, said he was finishing a Good Friday service nearby when he suddenly heard three shots ring out.
The US Capitol complex was placed on temporary lockdown after the incident and staff were told they could not enter or exit buildings. It was lifted after some two hours.
Pittman said the suspect did not appear to have been on the police’s radar. But the attack underscores that the building and campus — and the officers charged with protecting them — remain potential targets for violence.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas tweeted that “There is still much to be determined about this attack.”
The officer who died Friday is the seventh Capitol Police member to die in the line of duty in the department’s history. Two officers, one from Capitol Police and another from Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, died by suicide following the January 6 attack.
Video posted online showed a dark-colored sedan crashed against a vehicle barrier and a police canine unit inspecting the vehicle. Law enforcement and paramedics could be seen caring for at least one unidentified individual.
Biden had just departed the White House for Camp David when the incident occurred.
The incident comes as the Washington region remains on edge nearly three months after a mob of armed insurrectionists stormed the Capitol as Congress was voting to certify Biden’s presidential win.
Five people, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, died in the assault inspired by Trump’s groundless claims that he had lost the November presidential election due to massive fraud.
Since then security officials have said there is an ongoing threat from extreme-right groups and some Trump supporters.
More than 300 people have been charged in the January attack, including members of armed extremists groups including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, and 100 more are expected to be charged, according to Justice Department court filings.