Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.
One Capitol police officer has died and another was injured after a male suspect plowed his car through a barricade outside the U.S. Capitol grounds on Friday and came at officers with a knife.
The officer, who has not yet been identified, was standing outside the entrance to the north side of the Capitol—a typical entry point for senators, members of the press, and other Capitol employees—when the suspect drove a sedan through one barricade and ran police officers over before crashing into another, Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman said in a rare press conference. She said the suspect then got out of his car with a knife in his hand and “lunged” toward the officers, who in turn opened fire. The suspect was initially responsive but later died at hospital.
The attack did “not appear to be terrorism related” at this time, said Robert Contee, acting chief of the Metropolitan Police Department. But he noted that the investigation was in its very early stages, and they’ll be looking closely to determine if there is “some type of nexus along those lines.”
The suspect was not known to the Capitol police, according to Pittman, and she doesn’t know if he was targeting a particular lawmaker. (Congress is currently in recess).
The attack comes just three months after the Capitol was stormed by an insurrectionist mob who falsely believed the election had been stolen from former President Donald Trump.
The officer who died Friday is the second Capitol police officer to die in the line of duty so far this year. Officer Brian Sicknick died the day after the Capitol riot, and two rioters have been charged with assaulting him with a deadly weapon. But the investigation into what actually caused Sicknick’s death is ongoing. Two more officers also died by suicide following the Capitol riot.
“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,” Pittman said. “So I ask that you keep our US Capitol police family in your thoughts and prayers.”
Although the Capitol increased security measures after January 6, some of them have recently loosened; the high fencing with razor wire erected along the outer perimeter of the Capitol grounds was dismantled last week, earlier than anticipated.
On Friday, the Washington, D.C. National Guard was deployed to the Capitol complex, CNN reported. The Capitol was put on lockdown for several hours, but the lockdown order was lifted by 3:30 pm, local time.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has ordered the flag at the Capitol to be flown at half-mast.