Capitol Police Officer William F. Evans was killed and a second officer was injured after being rammed by a vehicle at the heavily guarded northern entrance to the U.S. Capitol on Friday, the acting chief of the Capitol Police said. The suspect was shot and killed.
Officer Evans, an 18-year veteran of the force who served with the department’s first responders unit and was known to friends as Billy, was injured in the violent confrontation and died shortly after, the chief, Yogananda D. Pittman, said in a statement.
“It is with a very, very heavy heart that I announce one of our officers has succumbed to his injuries,” Ms. Pittman said, her voiced choked with emotion. “I just ask that the public keep the U.S. Capitol Police and their families in your prayers.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Officer Evans “a martyr for our democracy.”
The other officer was in “stable and nonthreatening condition,” the Capitol Police said on Twitter on Friday evening.
After ramming the officers, the attacker “exited the vehicle with a knife in hand” and began “lunging” at the officers, Ms. Pittman said at a news conference near the scene of the attack. The suspect was subsequently identified by a senior law enforcement official as Noah Green, 25, of Indiana.
At least one of the officers was medevacked to a hospital, according to law enforcement officials, and a National Guard quick-response team and the local police were on hand at the already heavily fortified Capitol complex.
Investigators do not yet know the motive for the attack, but do not believe it was “terrorism related” at this time, Chief Robert Contee of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department told reporters.
Ms. Pittman did not identify Mr. Green, but said that the driver had not been previously known to her agency. On his Facebook page, which has since been taken down, Mr. Green described himself as a supporter of the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and said he had been struggling through the last few months of the pandemic.
The attack was the most serious security threat at the Capitol since the deadly Jan. 6 riot that injured dozens and killed five people. President Biden ordered flags at the White House to be flown at half-staff in honor of Officer Evans, and Ms. Pelosi ordered the same at the Capitol complex.
Mr. Biden, who had left Washington to go to Camp David before the attack, said in a statement that he was receiving “ongoing briefings” from his homeland security adviser.
“Jill and I were heartbroken to learn of the violent attack at a security checkpoint on the U.S. Capitol grounds, which killed Officer William Evans of the U.S. Capitol Police and left a fellow officer fighting for his life,” Mr. Biden said. “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.”
In recent days, some Republicans, citing the diminished threat of violence at the Capitol, had called for scaling back some security measures. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, complained last month that the cordon of fencing and armed soldiers was “overdone,” and said the militarized atmosphere reminded him of his “last visit to Kabul” in 2015.
On Friday, he praised the Capitol Police.
“Once again, brave officers of the United States Capitol Police have been violently attacked while simply doing their job,” Mr. McConnell said in a statement, adding, “We could not be more grateful for the professionalism and heroism of the officers who neutralized this threat at the checkpoint and for the entire U.S.C.P. force, who have had to endure so much in just a few short months.”
The Capitol went into lockdown around 1 p.m. on what had been a quiet, sunny Friday, with the police instructing staff to remain inside, away from doors and windows, and to “seek cover” if they were outside, citing an unspecified “external security threat.”
Images posted on social media appeared to show emergency workers treating someone on the driveway of the Capitol. A blue car could be seen rammed into a security barricade, with the driver’s side door and trunk open.
One member of the news media, Jake Sherman, posted a video showing a helicopter landing near the building, hovering a few feet off the ground and then careening through trees as police vehicles drove across the plaza.
Around 2:30 p.m. on Friday, the Capitol Police said that the threat to the building had been “neutralized.”
With Congress in recess, most lawmakers were not on Capitol Hill. But many aides were in and around the Capitol working or receiving coronavirus vaccinations.
The attack came more than a week after officials removed a perimeter fence topped with razor wire that had been placed around the complex after the Jan. 6 riot, and reopened the streets surrounding the Capitol to vehicle traffic.
They also announced that they would reduce the number of National Guard troops on Capitol Hill to 2,200 while extending their deployment until May 23.
An inner-perimeter fence around the actual Capitol building remains in place while the police and lawmakers continue to hash out a long-term security plan.
Ben Decker contributed reporting.