Joe Biden 'heartbroken' after police officer killed in US Capitol attack

2 April 2021, 20:14 | Updated: 3 April 2021, 07:53

US Capitol Police in Washington DC responded to a report a vehicle rammed into a barrier
US Capitol Police in Washington DC responded to a report a vehicle rammed into a barrier. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Joe Biden has said he is "heartbroken" after a police officer was killed when a man rammed into him and a colleague at a barricade outside the US Capitol in Washington DC.

Video of the incident showed the suspect emerging from the vehicle wielding a knife before running at the two officers, Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman told reporters.

The officer killed in the attack has been named as William "Billy" Evans, while another was injured.

Meanwhile, authorities shot the suspect, who later died at a hospital.

US President Joe Biden said in a statement that he and his wife Jill sent their condolences to the family of the officer who was killed.

"As a sign of respect for the service and sacrifice of the victims of the attack at the United States Capitol on Friday 2 April, by the authority vested in me as president of the United States by the constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the federal government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, 6 April 2021," he said.

"I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all United States embassies, legations, consular offices, and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations."

Paying tribute to the police officer who died, acting chief of the Capitol Police Yogananda Pittman said in a statement: "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... please keep Officer Evans and his family in your thoughts and prayers."

Ms Pittman said the suspect jumped out of the vehicle brandishing a knife after he drove at the officers.

She continued: "The suspect did start lunging towards US Capitol police officers, at which time US Capitol police officers fired upon the suspect.

"At this time the suspect has been pronounced deceased."

Ms Pittman added: "This has been an extremely difficult time for US Capitol Police after the events of January 6 and now the events that have occurred here today."

Members of the U.S. Capitol Police stand guard near the scene
Members of the U.S. Capitol Police stand guard near the scene. Picture: PA

She said: "Two US capitol police officers were transported to two different hospitals and it is with a very heavy heart that I announce one of our officers has succumbed to his injuries."

Authorities added that there was no longer an ongoing threat and that the attack did not appear to be related to terrorism.

The incident happened at a checkpoint near the Capitol. The Capitol complex was locked down after the shooting.

In a tweet, USCP said: "USCP is responding to the North Barricade vehicle access point along Independence Avenue for reports someone rammed a vehicle into two USCP officers.

"A suspect is in custody. Both officers are injured. All three have been transported to the hospital."

Staff inside the building in Washington DC were sent a message telling them no entry or exit was allowed and they were warned to stay away from exterior windows and doors.

The message added: "If you are outside, seek cover."

Footage from the scene showed a helicopter flying overhead and what appeared to be two people on stretchers being moved into ambulances.

Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell tweeted that he is "praying" for the Capitol Police officers, and is "grateful to all the USCP and first responders".

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has ordered flags at the Capitol to fly at half-staff, after news an officer was killed.

"Today's incident at the Capitol reminds us of the threats still facing our nation," tweeted Michigan Republican Fred Upton.

"My thoughts are with these brave officers and their families," wrote Democrat Eric Swalwell.

"They’ve sacrificed a tremendous amount over the last few months and we are forever indebted to them."

Chuck Schumer tweeted: "I’m heartbroken for the officer killed today defending our Capitol and for his family.

"I’m praying for the officer injured and his family."