A long-serving policeman has died after a driver rammed his vehicle into officers at a security barricade outside the US Capitol.
The incident took place at about 1 pm local time. The car, a blue Sedan, reportedly crashed into a barrier on Capitol Hill in Washington, injuring two police officers.
The driver left the car carrying a knife and was shot by officers at the scene. Both the suspect and the two police officers were then taken to hospital, where one of the officers and the suspect died.
The officer has been named as William "Billy" Evans of the Capitol Division's First Responders Unit, an 18-year veteran of the force who had first joined in 2003.
Acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said: "It is with profound sadness that I share the news of the passing of Officer William 'Billy' Evans this afternoon from injuries he sustained following an attack at the North Barricade by a lone assailant.
"Officer Evans had been a member of the United States Capitol Police for 18 years. He began his USCP service on March 7, 2003, and was a member of the Capitol Division’s First Responder’s Unit. Please keep Officer Evans and his family in your thoughts and prayers".
Biden expresses sadness
Robert J. Contee III, acting Chief of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department, said the attacker was not known to police and the incident was not thought to be terrorism-related.
President Joe Biden had just departed the White House for Camp David when the incident occurred.
In a statement, Biden and his wife said they were heartbroken to learn of the attack and expressed condolences to Evans' family. He directed flags at the White House to be lowered to half staff.
The incident comes nearly three months after the January 6 storming of the US Capitol building by supporters of Donald Trump, as Congress was voting to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.
Police said there was no immediate connection between the incident and the riot at the Capitol which led to the deaths of four protesters and one police officer.
Law enforcement officials identified the suspect as 25-year-old Noah Green.
Investigators were digging into his background and examining whether he had any mental health history as they tried to discern a motive. They were also working to obtain warrants to access his online accounts.
Green described himself as a follower 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 recent 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 few years have been tough, and these past few months have been tougher," he wrote.
"I have been tried with some of the biggest, unimaginable tests in my life. I am currently now unemployed after I left my job partly due to afflictions, but ultimately, in search of a spiritual journey".
Continued threat to Capitol
Pittman confirmed that the suspect did not appear to have been on the police’s radar. But the attack underscored that the building and campus - and the officers charged with protecting them - remain potential targets for violence.
Fencing that prevented traffic near the area where the ramming took place was recently removed as the Capitol had started to open up after the January 6 insurrection.
The incident came fewer than two weeks after the Capitol Police removed an outer fence that had cut off a wide swath of the area completely from local and police traffic.
The tall, dark fencing – parts of it covered in razor wire until recently - was not only a nuisance to those who lived in the area, blocking major arteries that cross the city, but also a stark symbol of the fear many in the Capitol felt after the violent mob laid siege to the Capitol.
Lawmakers said the seat of American democracy was meant to be open to the people, even if there was always going to be a threat.