Vehicle attack raises new questions about U.S. Capitol security

April 3, 2021 - 21:8

New questions are being raised about security measures around the United States Congress after a vehicular assault on a security checkpoint killed one Capitol Police officer, injured another and ended with the driver of the car shot dead.

A couple of minutes after 1pm local time (17:00 GMT) on Friday a man drove a car into a main driveway of the U.S. Capitol plaza, striking two police officers before crashing into a barricade. The man emerged from his car brandishing a knife and lunged at the officers before being shot, police officials said.

According to al Jazeera, Officer William “Billy” Evans succumbed to his injuries, according to acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman. The second officer remained hospitalized.
“We are devastated to share the sad news that one of our officers involved in this afternoon’s incident passed away,” the Capitol Police said in a statement. Evans, a Capitol Police officer since 2003, died at a hospital from injuries sustained in the attack.

Most of the 535 members of Congress were away on recess when the attack happened. National Guard soldiers and police with riot shields responded to the incident which caused a two-hour lockdown for thousands of congressional staff working at the Capitol complex.

“I personally believe that the Capitol Police need reinforcements right away and we should do everything in our powers to add the personnel that they require,” said Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi in an interview with the MSNBC news outlet.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement there would be “a swift and comprehensive investigation into this heinous attack” and praised the “heroism” of the police officers.
Sensitivities are high following the January 6 attack on the Capitol by a mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump. Protesters seeking to disrupt Congress’s certification of President Joe Biden’s 2020 election overran police checkpoints and invaded the Capitol building.

Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick officer died and a female protester was shot by a police officer. Three other protesters died from health incidents during the riot and two Capitol Police officers later committed suicide.

Congress called in the National Guard to defend the Capitol grounds and erected a non-scalable fence topped with razor wire around the building which in normal times is open to the public and visited by thousands of tourists.

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