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Police officer, suspect dead after security breach at US Capitol

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A US Capitol Police officer is dead after being attacked by a man who rammed his vehicle into a barrier just outside the Capitol building on Friday, 2 April.

The driver of the car was shot by police and died after being taken to a hospital in critical condition. Another officer has been hospitalised with undisclosed injuries.

“The suspect rammed his car into two of our officers, and then hit the north barricade barrier. At such time the suspect exited the vehicle with a knife in hand,” acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said. “Our officers then engaged that suspect. He did not respond to verbal commands.”

“The suspected did start lunging toward US Capitol Police officers, at which time US Capitol Police officers fired upon the suspect,” she added. “The suspect has been pronounced deceased.”

“And it is with a very, very heavy heart that I announce one of our officers has succumbed to his injuries,” Pittman said without identifying the officer’s name.

Police offered no motive for the incident but Robert Contee, the acting chief of the Metropolitan Police department, said “it does not appear to be terrorist-related or an ongoing threat

Contee said it did not appear that the suspect was known to Capitol Police or the Metropolitan Police prior to the incident.

US Capitol Police responded to the incident at the north barricade, outside the US Senate, after “reports someone rammed a vehicle into two USCP officers” shortly after 13:00 EDT (17:00 GMT).

National Guard, which has been deployed at the Capitol since the January 6 riot there, responded quickly to the incident.

There were reports of gunshots at the Capitol as the incident unfolded and police ordered staff via text and a message broadcast on loudspeakers to shelter in place.

“Due to an external security threat located all US Capitol campus buildings, no entry or exit is permitted at this time. You may move throughout the building(s) but stay away from exterior windows and doors. If you are outside, seek cover,” the text said.

Most members of Congress were not at the Capitol on Friday because both the house of representatives and Senate are in recess. One member, representative Ro Khanna, was at the Capitol and tweeted that he was safe.

Police closed several blocks of Constitution Avenue, the main boulevard running along the north side of the US Capitol building. Video from the scene showed police and emergency response vehicles responding.

Security at the Capitol has been extremely heavy since a mob attacked police and overran security checkpoints on January 6 after attending a political rally organized by former President Donald Trump.

Five people died in the rampage, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who tried to fight off rioters and was hit with a toxic spray, which officials believe may have contributed to his death.

Security fencing remains around the Capitol building itself and it is not clear how the suspect got his vehicle past that perimeter before crashing into the vehicle barricade.

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