On Sunday morning around 4 AM, a man allegedly drove a burning car into the Capitol Police barricade on Capitol Hill. PBS broke the story, but soon after NPR and The Washington Post began reporting the same story as well. US News attributed the report to the Capitol Police as a source.
The Capitol Police said “a man drove his vehicle into a barricade near the U.S. Capitol early Sunday and fired shots into the air before taking his own life.” The authorities said that no officers utilized their firearms during the incident.
According to the authorities, the man is yet unidentified, and they do not believe that he was targeting members of Congress, who are out of DC on the August recess. Congress went into this recess on Friday, and they will not return until after the Labor Day holiday weekend.
During the August recess, members of Congress have left DC, and very few staffers remain on Capitol Hill.
The Capitol Police revealed that the vehicle caught fire as the man was exiting the car. At this time, it is unclear whether the individual purposely set the car on fire as he exited or if the car caught fire on its own due to the crash. They did report that as the man got out of the vehicle, it became “engulfed in flames.” The man then fired multiple shots into the air, and turned the gun on himself. Although the incident is still under investigation, the police do not believe the officers discharged a weapon at the individual. No other injuries were reported as a result of the incident.
The vehicle crashed into a barricade located at East Capitol Street NE and Second Street SE near the Capitol Building.
This is the second incident where an individual used a vehicle to ram the barricade around the Capitol Building in just over a year. In April 2021, a man drove his vehicle into the barricade and two Capitol Police at a checkpoint. As a result, an eighteen-year veteran of the Capitol Police was killed.
Authorities are investigating the man in order to discern not only his identity, but also what may have motivated him to carry out such a heinous act.
Eyewitnesses to the incident say that it all happened so fast that the Capitol Police didn’t have time to discharge their weapons before the man had taken his own life.
The Sunday morning incident caps off an unstable week across the nation. On Monday, President Donald Trump’s home in Palm Beach, Florida – Mar-a-Lago – was raided. Since Monday, Americans have been increasingly concerned about how the raid was handled. On Thursday, a Navy veteran, Ricky Shiffer, attempted to breach the FBI field office in Cincinnati, Ohio.
According to reports, Shiffer was armed with a nail gun and an “AR-15 style rifle” when he entered the visitor’s screening area of the FBI office. When agents confronted him, he allegedly fled. A chase ensued, but an Ohio state trooper was the one to approach Shiffer. Reportedly, Shiffer engaged “in a gun battle” with authorities and was killed as a result.
The FBI has warned that, in light of the Trump raid, many threats to the agency have been made. Head of the FBI, Christopher Wray, denounced any threats to members of law enforcement.
Legal scholars such as Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Mason University, says that the release of the affidavit which investigators used to garner the search warrant could clear up many misunderstandings regarding the raid. However, the FBI and DOJ both have the right to keep that material sealed.
While the American people – both Democrat and Republican – are deeply concerned about the unprecedented raid on a former president’s home, violence against those entities is never acceptable. Violence against members of any government entity is never acceptable. Americans must remember in November, and they must use the power of the ballot as their voice rather than violence.