Washington, Mar 29: An armed man was today shot and captured by police after he pointed a weapon at them at the US Capitol visitor center here, triggering a lockdown, amid heightened alert following the terror attacks in Brussels.
Police shot Larry Russel Dawson, 66, at an entrance of the US Capitol visitor centre. A woman bystander sustained non-life-threatening injuries in the incident.
Dawson and the woman were taken to a nearby hospital where Dawson's condition was said to be unknown. As a result of the shooting, the US Capitol was locked down.
The House and the Senate were in recess. For a brief period, there was panic at the US Capitol. Staffers were asked by the police to stay-in-place order while tourists in the area were told to flee.
"We believe that this is the act of a single person that has frequented the Capitol grounds before. There is no reason to believe this is anything more than a criminal act," US Capitol Police chief Matthew Verderosa told reporters.
He ruled out a terrorist incident. "It appears that the screening process worked how it was supposed to," Vederosa said, adding that the incident occurred around 2:39 PM local time when Dawson entered the screening checkpoint at the Capitol Visitor Centre.
Shortly before 2:40 PM today, an armed individual attempted to enter the Capitol Visitor Centre security screening facility, the US Capitol Police Board said in a statement to Congressional community.
"Shots were fired and within minutes the individual was apprehended. The individual was then taken to a local hospital. This resulted in the Capitol Complex being locked down, and staff and visitors ordered to shelter in place. A bystander received non-life threatening injuries in the incident and is also being treated at hospital," it said.
Security in and around the US Capitol has been increased. "Today, we are reminded of the courage and daily sacrifice of the US Capitol Police.
The Capitol is our greatest symbol of democracy, and these officers serve to protect not just those who work there but also the millions of visitors from all around the world who travel each year to see it," said Paul Ryan, Speaker of the US House of Representatives.
The House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer thanked the Capitol Police for their quick response to the threat. "The men and women of the US Capitol Police do an extraordinary job protecting our nation's lawmakers, Congressional staff and all those coming to visit their Representatives. Because of their skill and professionalism, the seat of our democracy can remain safely open and accessible to those it serves," Hoyer said.
"Today, we have been reminded yet again of the deep courage of our US Capitol Police officers, and all those who work to protect the visitors, staff and members who come to the US Capitol Complex each and every day," said Nancy Pelosi, the former Speaker of US House of Representatives.