Officers hurt near US Capitol after being rammed by vehicle

WION Web Team
Washington, United StatesUpdated: Apr 03, 2021, 12:10 AM IST

Washington, DC (file photo) Photograph:(AFP)

Story highlights

The Capitol was on lockdown amid reports of shots having been fired in the incident

Two officers were injured near the US Capitol on Friday after being rammed by a vehicle less than three months after Congress came under attack from an extreme-right mob, police said.

The US Capitol complex was placed on lockdown after the shooting and staff were told they could not enter or exit buildings.

"A suspect is in custody. Both officers are injured. All three have been transported to the hospital," the US Capitol Police said on Twitter.

Television footage showed a blue sedan that had crashed into a security barrier on one of the streets leading to Congress, as what appeared to be the injured officers were loaded onto gurneys and into ambulances.

It comes as the Washington region remains on edge nearly three months after an insurrection by supporters of then-president Donald Trump stormed the Capitol as Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden’s presidential win.

Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died in the assault inspired by Trump's groundless claims that he had lost the November presidential election due to massive fraud.

Since then security officials have said there is an ongoing threat from extreme-right groups and Trump supporters.

More than 300 people have been charged in the January attack, including members of armed extremists groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, and 100 more are expected to be charged, according to Justice Department court filings.

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.

CBS News reported that security officials had already warned congressional staffers of a threat before the car-ramming.

Text messages sent to staffers inside told them to avoid windows and said no one could enter or leave the building.

"If you are outside, seek cover," the messages said.

But the danger on Friday was limited as Congress was in recess for the Easter holiday and relatively few people were in the building.

Security officials, including the Capitol Police and National Guard, were faulted for reacting slowly to the crowds who stormed the Capitol on January 6.

Several hundred rioters broke down doors and windows and poured into the halls of the legislature, some calling for physical attacks on various members of Congress and on then-vice president Mike Pence, who was there to preside over a session to formally declare Joe Biden the winner of the election.

While the incident remains under investigation, some have alleged that Trump and supporters encouraged the attack and that Trump officials held back on deploying additional law enforcement and troops to fight back the attackers.