US Capitol on lockdown after report of gunfire nearby

REUTERS  Joshua Roberts  Files

US Capitol Police officers stand guard after a auto that crashed into a barrier on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, April 2, 2021.

In a tweet Friday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, "Praying for the United States Capitol Police officers who were attacked at the Capitol".

Evans' death rocked a force already reeling since the January 6 mob attack on the Capitol that left another officer, Brian Sicknick, dead.

Two Capitol Police officers were gunned down in the building in 1998 when a man opened fire inside.

"It is with profound sadness that I share the news of the passing of Officer William "Billy" Evans this afternoon from injuries he sustained following an attack at the North Barricade by a lone assailant", Acting US Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said.

The officials could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. Another officer has been injured. There was also no immediate connection apparent between Friday's crash and the January 6 riot.

"This time it does not appear to be an ongoing threat", Robert Contee, the acting chief of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department, told reporters Friday. As customary, he was travelling with a member of the National Security Council Staff who was expected to brief him on the incident.

Police block a street after a vehicle drove into police officers near the US Capitol building in Washington US
Police block a street after a vehicle drove into police officers near the US Capitol building in Washington US

At approximately 1:10 p.m. Capitol staff were instructed by Capitol Police to remain indoors and away from external windows due to an "external security threat". All roads leading to the complex were blocked by police or police officers.

In recent weeks, some security has been loosened, with the number of armed National Guard troops at the Capitol reduced and a security fence that created a broad perimeter around the Capitol complex removed.

Video posted online showed a dark-coloured sedan crashed against a vehicle barrier and a police dog inspecting the vehicle.

The danger on Friday was limited as Congress was in recess and relatively few people were in the building.

The FBI's Washington, D.C., field office said it had "responded to an incident at the U.S. Capitol" and is providing support to Capitol Police. Law enforcement and paramedics could be seen caring for at least one unidentified individual.

President Joe Biden had just departed the White House for Camp David when the incident occurred.

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