A Capitol Police officer was killed Friday after a man rammed a car into two officers at a barricade outside the U.S. 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 arising 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 passed on at a hospital.
"I just ask that the public continue to keep U.S. Capitol Police and their families in your prayers," Pittman said. "This has been an incredibly difficult time for U.S. Capitol Police after the events of Jan. 6 and now the events that have occurred here today."
Police recognized the slain officer as William "Billy" Evans, a 18-year veteran who was an individual from the department's first responders unit.
Two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that investigators initially accepted the suspect stabbed one of the officers, but it was later unclear whether the knife actually made contact, in part because the vehicle struck the officers with such force. The officials were not authorized to publicly discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Authorities said there wasn't a continuous threat, though the Capitol was put on lockdown for a period as a precaution. There was also no immediate association apparent between Friday's crash and the Jan. 6 mob.
Law enforcement officials recognized the suspect as 25-year-old Noah Green. Investigators were delving into his background and examining whether he had any mental health history as they attempted to discern a thought process. They were also attempting to obtain warrants to access his online accounts.
Pittman said the suspect didn't appear to have been on the police's radar. But the attack underscored that the building and campus — and the officers charged with securing them — remain potential targets for savagery.
Green described himself as a supporter of the Nation of Islam and its founder, Louis Farrakhan, and spoke of going through a difficult time where he leaned on his faith, according to late messages posted online that have since been taken down. The messages were captured by the group SITE, which tracks online activity.
"To be honest these past couple of years have been tough, and these past couple of months have been tougher," he composed. "I have been attempted with some of the biggest, unimaginable tests in my day to day existence. I'm currently now unemployed after I gave up positions work partly due to afflictions, but ultimately, in search of a spiritual journey."
President Joe Biden said in a statement that he and his significant other were heartbroken to learn of the attack and expressed condolences to Evans' family. He guided flags at the White House to be brought down to half staff.
The crash and shooting happened at a security designated spot near the Capitol typically used by senators and staff on weekdays, though most were away from the building for the current recess. The attack occurred about 100 yards (91 meters) 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 heard three shots ring out.
Five individuals passed on in the Jan. 6 uproar, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who was among a badly outnumbered force attempting to fend off the intruders seeking to overturn the political decision. Authorities installed a tall border fence around the Capitol and for months restricted traffic along the roads closest to the building, but they had begun pulling back some of the crisis measures. Fencing that forestalled vehicular traffic near that area was as of late eliminated.
Evans was the seventh Capitol Police part to pass on in the line of duty in the department's history, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks deaths of law enforcement. In addition, two officers, one from Capitol Police and another from Washington's Metropolitan Police Department, passed on by suicide following the Jan. 6 attack.
Almost 140 Capitol Police officers were wounded in that attack, including officers not issued helmets who sustained head injuries and one with cracked ribs, according to the officers' union. It took hours for the National Guard to arrive, a delay that has driven months of blame dispensing between that day's key decision makers.
Capitol Police and National Guard troops were called upon soon afterward to secure the Capitol during Biden's inauguration and faced another potential threat in early March connected to conspiracy theories falsely claiming Trump would retake the presidency.
"Today, by and by, these heroes risked their lives to ensure our Capitol and our country, with the same extraordinary selflessness and spirit of service seen on January 6," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. "On behalf of the whole House, we are profoundly grateful."
The U.S. Capitol complex was placed on lockdown for a period after Friday's shooting, and staffers were told they could not enter or exit buildings. Video showed Guard troops activating near the area of the crash.
Video posted online showed a dark shaded sedan crashed against a vehicle barrier and a police K-9 canine inspecting the vehicle. Law enforcement and paramedics could be seen caring for at least one unidentified individual.
Congress is in spring recess for the week, so lawmakers had returned home and were not working in the building.
A heavy law-enforcement presence quickly descended upon the complex, including dozens of National Guard troops. Two stretchers were seen being taken out of an ambulance and a helicopter landed on the east front of Capitol.
A message sent to congressional offices said, "Due to an external security threat," there was "no access or exit is permitted at this time. You may move throughout the building(s) but stay away from outside windows and doors. On the off chance that you are outside, seek cover."
Security at the Capitol has been uplifted with extra safety measures and personnel in place since a horde of Trump supporters stormed the complex during the Jan. 6 electoral vote count before a joint session of Congress.
About 140 officers from the Capitol Police and D.C. Metropolitan Police departments were injured during the assault. One officer, Brian Sicknick, passed on as a result of injuries during the mob, and two other officers kicked the bucket by suicide in the weeks after the brutality.