US Capitol lock down ends after shots fired — suspect ‘neutralized’: police
A man shot himself dead near the U.S. Capitol on Saturday, police said, sparking a temporary security lockdown at the complex on one of the busiest days for tourists in Washington.
The lockdown, which ended shortly before 4 p.m. EDT and lasted about two hours, was a precautionary measure, Capitol Police spokeswoman Kimberly Schneider said. Police plan to hold a news conference at 5 p.m.
“Confirmed: self-inflicted gunshot by neutralized subject,” Schneider said in a statement, later adding the shooter was male.
Police had also been investigating a suspicious package on the lower west terrace of the Capitol building in Washington. Although the all-clear was given, nearby streets remained closed while the investigation continued, the office of the U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms said in a post on Twitter. Several media reports said it was the man’s luggage.
“There are no indications at this point of terrorism,” a U.S. official told NBC News.
The incident occurred on a Saturday, and Congress is out of session this week, so few lawmakers were in town. But the city was crowded with tourists visiting for the popular annual Cherry Blossom festival.
It blocked traffic but did not appear to disrupt visitors.
Four to five fire trucks were parked near the southwest corner of the Capitol grounds, and police blocked off several roads. Still, parents with children milled around the Capitol grounds, and the atmosphere was calm, a Reuters witness said.
It also did not appear to disrupt the thousands of visitors in town for the cherry tree viewing festival across the city closer to the White House.
Near the White House, about 2 miles (3 km) east of the Capitol, authorities also moved tourists away from the grounds on Saturday afternoon as a precaution before later reopening the area, a law enforcement official said.
Lawmakers are due to return to work on Monday.
Saturday’s shooting is the latest in a string of security incidents at high-profile buildings in the nation’s capitol.
In 2013, police shot and killed a woman after she rammed security barricades with her car near the White House before racing toward the Capitol. Also in 2013, a government contractor opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard, killing 12 people.
More recently, a man pleaded guilty to charges of running into the White House in September armed with a knife before being tackled, a security breach that helped lead to a shake-up in the U.S. Secret Service.
(Reporting by Sandra Maler, Susan Heavey, Yeganeh Torbati, Roberta Rampton and Eric Walsh; Editing by Frances Kerry and Marguerita Choy)