WASHINGTON — A Capitol Police officer was killed Friday after a man rammed a car into two officers at a barricade outside the US Capitol and then emerged wielding a knife. It was the second line-of-duty death this year for a department still struggling to heal from the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Video shows the driver of the crashed car emerging with a knife in his hand and starting to run at the pair of officers, Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman told reporters. Authorities shot the suspect, who died at a hospital.
Two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that the suspect stabbed one of the officers. The officials spoke to AP were not authorized to publicly discuss the pending investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
“I just ask that the public continue to keep US Capitol Police and their families in your prayers,” Pittman said. “This has been an extremely difficult time for US Capitol Police after the events of Jan. 6 and now the events that have occurred here today.”
Police identified the slain officer as William “Billy” Evans, an 18-year veteran who was a member of the department’s first responders unit.
Authorities said that there wasn’t an ongoing threat and that the attack did not appear to be related to terrorism, though the Capitol was put on lockdown as a precaution. There was also no immediate connection apparent between Friday’s crash and the Jan. 6 riot.
Investigators were digging into the suspect’s background and examining whether he had any mental health history as they tried to discern a motive. They were working to obtain warrants to access his online accounts.
The crash and shooting happened at a security checkpoint near the Capitol typically used by senators and staff on weekdays, though most are away from the building during the current recess. The attack occurred about 100 yards from the entrance of the building on the Senate side of the Capitol. One witness, the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, said he was finishing a Good Friday service nearby when he suddenly heard three shots ring out.
Pittman said the suspect did not appear to have been on the police’s radar. But the attack underscores that the building and campus — and the officers charged with protecting them — remain potential targets for violence.
Evans is the seventh Capitol Police member to die in the line of duty in the department’s history. Two officers, one from Capitol Police and another from Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, died by suicide following the Jan. 6 attack.
The suspect had been taken to the hospital in critical condition. One of the officers who was injured was taken by police car to the hospital; the other was transported by emergency medical crews.