One US Capitol Police officer has died and another is injured after a suspect rammed a vehicle into a police barricade outside the Capitol building Friday afternoon, the department’s acting chief Yogananda Pittman told reporters during a press briefing roughly two hours after initial reports of the attack first surfaced.
The officer was identified by Pittman later Friday as Officer William “Billy” Evans, an 18-year veteran of the force and a member of its “First Responders Unit.”
“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,” she said in a statement shortly after telling reporters the name of the officer would not be released until his family was notified.
During the press briefing, Pittman said the suspect in the attack, who brandished a knife after ramming his vehicle into a police barricade on Constitution Avenue and was subsequently shot by officers, had also died.
Federal and local law enforcement sources told CNN that the suspect has been identified as Noah Green. One federal source told CNN he was 25 years old.
An investigation into the attack is ongoing, Pittman said, but the immediate danger appears to have subsided. USCP lifted an hours-long lockdown of the Capitol Friday afternoon after law enforcement determined the “external security threat” had been cleared.
Police and National Guardsmen responded swiftly as the situation unfolded Friday, immediately moving to secure the Capitol as initial reports of violence began to emerge.
“Just after 1 p.m., a man in a blue sedan rammed his vehicle into the North Barricade at the US Capitol, striking 2 USCP officers,” US Capitol Police said in a statement. “The Department immediately locked down the Capitol Campus. The man exited the vehicle with a knife and ran toward our officers. At least one officer, drew their weapon and shot the suspect.”
That sequence of events aligns with what a senior congressional aide and a US Capitol Police source told CNN earlier Friday. At the time, the sources said that after the driver of the vehicle rammed his car into a barricade on Constitution Avenue, the driver exited the vehicle brandishing a knife. Police responded, shooting the suspect and taking him into custody.
A law enforcement official told CNN at least one of the officers was stabbed.
But while the suspect was quickly neutralized, the deadly incident undoubtedly serves as a stark reminder of the violent insurrection that occurred less than three months ago on January 6 and the persistent security concerns that have been top of mind for many on Capitol Hill in the time since, despite a recent ramping down of some additional protective measures.
Barbed wire fencing that surrounded the Capitol complex for months after pro-Trump rioters stormed the building has since come down and thousands of the National Guard troops who were deployed in response to the insurrection have since returned home, though thousands still remain in Washington due to lingering security concerns.
The National Guard was seen responding to Friday’s attack, and later confirmed it had been deployed to the Capitol.
“The DC National Guard deployed a Immediate Response Force (IRF) composed of National Guard soldiers and airmen to the Capitol complex this afternoon to support the U.S. Capitol Police. Due to operational security, we cannot discuss further details regarding the IRF,” the National Guard said in a tweet.
“No National Guard members were injured in the incident at the Capitol. Currently, approximately 2,300 National Guard members are in DC supporting local, state, and federal authorities in DC,” it added.
The death of Officer Evans had already cast a dark cloud over Washington in the immediate aftermath of the attack.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered that the flags flown over the US Capitol be flown at half-staff in honor of the officer, her spokesman Drew Hammill said in a tweet Friday, while several lawmakers and top administration officials immediately offered their condolences.
“Today, America’s heart has been broken by the tragic and heroic death of one of our Capitol Police heroes: Officer William Evans. He is a martyr for our democracy,” Pelosi said in a statement.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas underscored the lack of clarity surrounding the situation in his statement Friday, saying that “there is still much to be determined about this attack” and committed his department’s full support to the US Capitol Police and to DC Mayor Muriel Bowser as the investigation is carried out.
“My thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, and colleagues of the U.S. Capitol Police Officer who lost his life today protecting the very symbol of our democracy,” Mayorkas said in a statement Friday.
The long-term security posture at the Capitol has also become a topic of increasing debate in recent weeks as congressional committees continue their investigations into the failures around the January 6 attack.
At the moment, details about Friday’s incident remain scarce though police officials said it does not appear to be terrorism-related.
This story has been updated with additional details.