Police officer dies after car rams security barrier at US Capitol

One US Capitol Police officer has died and another is injured after a suspect rammed a vehicle into a police barricade outside the Capitol building Friday afternoon.

The officer was identified by acting chief Yogananda Pittman told reporters as Officer William "Billy" Evans, an 18-year veteran of the force and a member of its "First Responders Unit.

Authorities said the attack, which came three months after January's deadly Capitol riots, did not appear to be terrorism-related.

Shortly after 13:00 local time (18:00 GMT) the Capitol Police alert system sent an email to lawmakers and their staff ordering them to stay away from exterior windows and doors due to a threat. Anyone outside was instructed to seek cover.

During the press briefing, Pittman said the suspect in the attack, who brandished a knife after ramming his vehicle into a police barricade on Constitution Avenue and was subsequently shot by officers, had also died.

Evans’ death has shaken the force, which is already reeling from the attack on 6 January at the Capitol that left another officer, Brian Sicknick, dead. Two officers who responded to that assault later died by suicide, in what their families have said was a direct result of the impact of the ambush.

“It has been an extremely difficult and challenging year for us, but we will get through this,” Pittman said.

The suspect, identified as Noah Green, was not known to Capitol Police or the D.C. Metropolitan Police, officials said.

Robert Contee, the acting chief of Washington DC's Metropolitan Police Department, said at a news conference: "Whether the attack was at law enforcement, or whoever, we have a responsibility to get to the bottom of it and we'll do that."

Who is the suspect?

Green, 25, is said to have exited the vehicle and ran towards the officers - at least one of whom drew a weapon and shot the suspect. The officers were then transported to hospital, one in an ambulance and one in a police cruiser.

An investigation into the attack is ongoing, Pittman said, but the immediate danger appears to have subsided.

They said that no prior information about Green had been found on any police databases.

However, in a post from mid-March on a now-deleted Facebook page, Green wrote that he had recently left his job, "partly due to afflictions, but ultimately, in search of a spiritual journey". He added he had been suffering the "side effects of drugs I was intaking unknowingly" and wrote extensively of his interest in the black nationalist religious organisation, Nation of Islam.

Less than two hours before he was shot and killed, Green posted a number of Instagram stories on an account that appears to belong to him, including links to ​other Instagram videos of Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan speaking.

"The U.S. Government is the #1 enemy of Black people!" a caption on one video read. In another post on the Instagram account, Green wrote last week that he believed Farrakhan had saved him "after the terrible afflictions I have suffered presumably by the CIA and FBI, government agencies of the United States of America."

Meanwhile, an increased security presence remains around the Capitol building, where the US Congress sits.

As Congress is not currently in session, most politicians were not at the Capitol complex at the time of the attack.

President Joe Biden, who is spending the weekend at Camp David, was briefed on the incident, the White House said. In a statement expressing condolences from him and first lady Jill Biden, President Biden said he would lower flags at the White House to half-staff.

"We know what a difficult time this has been for the Capitol, everyone who works there, and those who protect it," he said.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered all flags at the Capitol to be flown at half-staff on Friday in honour of Evans, who she called “a martyr for our democracy.”

“Today, once again, these heroes risked their lives to protect our Capitol and our country, with the same extraordinary selflessness and spirit of service seen on January 6,” Pelosi said in a statement.

It remains to be seen how Friday's attack might impact longer-term plans regarding security at the Capitol, a topic that has come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks as many lawmakers and staff hoped to reclaim some sense of normalcy despite ongoing congressional investigations into the failures around the January 6 attack.

Barbed wire fencing that surrounded the Capitol complex for months after pro-Trump rioters stormed the building has since come down and thousands of the National Guard troops who were deployed in response to the insurrection have since returned home, though thousands still remain in Washington and were seen responding to Friday's attack.