Evans’ death rocked a force that had faltered since the January 6 mob attack on the Capitol, leaving another officer, Brian Sicknick, dead. Two officers who responded to the attack later died of suicide. Their families said it was a direct result of the aftermath of the January 6 attack.
“It’s been an extremely difficult and challenging year for us, but we’re going to make it,” said Pittman.
The suspect was unknown to the Capitol Police or the DC Metropolitan Police, officials said. Robert Contee, the acting DC chief of police, said the incident “does not appear to have anything to do with terrorism” and has no evidence of “any connection with a member of Congress.” The suspect’s motive was unknown.
The Capitol Police gave the all-clear shortly after 3:00 p.m. and lifted the lockdown for those in the various Capitol buildings.
President Joe Biden, who is spending the weekend at Camp David, has been informed of the incident, the White House said. In a statement he and First Lady Jill Biden offer condolences, President Biden said he would lower the flags in the White House to half the staff.
“We know how difficult this was for the Capitol, for everyone who works there, and for those who protect it,” he said.
Spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi ordered all flags to be hoisted on half poles in the Capitol on Friday in honor of Evans, whom she described as a “martyr for our democracy”.
“Today these heroes risked their lives again to protect our Capitol and our lands with the same extraordinary selflessness and service as they did on Jan. 6,” Pelosi said in a statement.
“On behalf of the entire house, we are deeply grateful” Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Minority chairman of the House of Representatives, said, adding, Evans “(embodies) the best of what the Capitol Police stand for.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) said he was “broken” for Evans’ family and loved ones, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Said Evans was going “for his selfless sacrifice will go down in history “. ”
Other lawmakers have expressed concern about the strain on Capitol Police after facing a tragedy earlier this year.
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), chairman of the House Funds Subcommittee that oversees funding for the Capitol Police, told reporters it was a “very traumatic time” for the Capitol Police following the January 6 riot, a force that already “stretched” by responding to Covid-19 and working overtime to protect the Capitol.
“They will continue to be resilient, but they’ve been through a lot and it’s just heartbreaking for the news they all received today,” he said.
Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.), Who includes the widow of officer Howie Liebengood, who died of suicide days after the January 6 attack, said policymakers need to focus on the well-being of officials, especially in the aftermath of a second fatal incident on duty. Wexton says she is concerned that after Jan 6, the focus has been on physical barriers rather than the officers themselves.
“There will always be some sort of entry point, no matter what physical barriers you have. There will always be a danger zone for the Capitol Police,” said Wexton in a telephone interview. “There will always be a Capitol Police between the barriers and the attackers. They are the most consistent group to deal with. “
The House and Senate are currently on hiatus, but some lawmakers, staff, and reporters have been working on Capitol Hill. A message to lawmakers and employees shortly after 1 p.m. warned them to stay away from “outside windows and doors” and to “take cover” for outsiders.
Several law enforcement agencies responded to the scene, and the FBI’s Washington Field Office said it supported the Capitol Police. A rapid reaction force – the contingent of troops represented after the January 6 attack – was activated shortly before 1:30 p.m., according to a person familiar with the matter. A Pentagon official confirmed the operation.
The complex was closed after the January 6 uprising and a National Guard contingent of around 2,300 soldiers remained in the area as of Friday. National Guards ran to barricades around the Capitol on Friday, many wearing shields that had been stored in the complex since the uprising. Capitol Police closed several blocks around the building when police responded to the scene.
Until two weeks ago, the exact location where the incident occurred was closed to the public. For more than two months, a 10-foot fence has surrounded the entire Capitol complex, preventing unauthorized people from gaining access. A debate had raged on Capitol Hill over whether to remove the fence or keep some kind of perimeter indefinitely.
The department underwent an in-depth review of the mistakes that led to the Jan. 6 violation. The House and Senate are both conducting intensive security reviews and making suggestions that could dramatically transform the Capitol’s police force.
Kyle Cheney, Natasha Bertrand, and Lara Seligman contributed to this report.