US Capitol Police, facing criticism over an apparent lack of preparedness to deal with Wednesday’s violent mob on Capitol Hill, provided first details about the deadly incident that left lawmakers and staff fearful for their lives.
In a statement released Thursday morning, chief of police Steven A. Sund said Capitol Police and other law enforcement officers were “actively attacked” with metal pipes and other weapons.
“They were determined to enter into the Capitol Building by causing great damage,” Sund said.
The Capitol Police fired on an adult woman as “protesters were forcing their way toward the House Chamber where Members of Congress were sheltering in place.” The woman was later pronounced dead after being transported to a nearby hospital. The officer involved has been put on administrative leave pending a joint investigation with Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department.
Sund also said Capitol Police responded to reports of pipe bombs and a suspicious vehicle on the southeast corner of the capitol, adding that the Capitol police “determined that both devices were, in fact, hazardous and could cause great harm to public safety.”
The FBI is investigating the incident further.
Here’s what else the department said:
- More than a dozen arrests: The Capitol Police revealed for the first time that 13 people have been arrested for “unlawful entry” of the Capitol complex, in addition to the owner of the suspicious vehicle. The police said that additional charges may be filed pending further investigation.
- Officers injured: More than 50 Capitol Police and metropolitan police were injured during yesterday’s attack, and several have been hospitalized with “serious injuries,” according to Sund.
- How Sund described the chaos: “The violent attack on the US Capitol was unlike any I have ever experienced in my 30 years in law enforcement here in Washington, D.C.,” Sund said. “Maintaining public safety in an open environment – specifically for First Amendment activities – has long been a challenge.”
Lawmakers say they are perplexed at the lack of preparedness among law enforcement given that it had been known for weeks that President Trump was promoting a rally he said was aimed at preventing the certification of Joe Biden’s win.
Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley, who was locked in the House chamber during an armed standoff between Capitol Police and a rioter, praised the officers who were in the building that put their lives on the line to protect the lawmakers. But Quigley made clear that they were outnumbered and law enforcement was underprepared.
“The Capitol Police I was around did an amazing job under difficult circumstances,” Quigley told CNN. “My concern wasn’t with how valiant the Capitol Police were. It was that an hour before the debate started, I looked at the throngs of people surrounding different sections of the Capitol — and said, we don’t have enough security.”
Quigley added: “I’m no expert in security, but you can tell we were outmanned in an hour before the debate,” referring to Congress’ proceedings to certify Biden’s win.