Officials: Suspect in critical condition after shooting at U.S. Capitol
WASHINGTON — A shooting occurred at the U.S. Capitol on Monday afternoon, leaving one innocent bystander and the shooter injured.
Initial reports from Capitol officials said a police officer had been injured, but that information was contradicted by subsequent reports. At a press conference held by the Capitol Police, it was announced that no officers were injured, though at least one fired a shot that hit the suspect after he pulled out a gun. He tried to enter the Visitor’s Center and went through the metal detectors, and when those magnetometers beeped, he was stopped by security and then pulled out the gun.
The suspect was taken into custody and had surgery. He remains in stable, but critical condition.
“We believe this is an act of a single person who has frequented the Capitol grounds before, and there is no reason to believe this is anything more than a criminal act,” said Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa.
The gunman was identified by law enforcement officials as Larry Russell Dawson. He was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and assault on a police officer while armed.
Dawson was arrested on a charge of assaulting a police officer in October after an outburst in the chamber of the House of Representatives. Court documents from that 2015 incident describe Dawson as a 66-year-old man from Tennessee. In that incident, according to the documents, Dawson “loudly stated to Congress he was a ‘prophet of God.’ ”
A female civilian in her 40s or 50s was also injured by shrapnel, but is expected to be okay.
The U.S. Capitol Police told staff in the Capitol complex to shelter in place after the shooting near the Capitol Visitor’s Center, though that has since been lifted and the Capitol has reopened for business. However, the Visitor’s Center, where the incident occurred, remains closed for the investigation.
The event unfolded with Congress on recess and lawmakers back in their districts. A high school student who was at the Capitol sent out this Instagram video of the incident:
The White House also was briefly put on lockdown, but that has been lifted.
Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy tweeted around 3:08 p.m. that all of his staff was safe and accounted for.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal released a statement later on also confirming the safety of his staff: “I am incredibly thankful to the U.S. Capitol Police and first responders for their bravery and immediate action today and every day. Their quick response almost certainly prevented additional injury and perhaps loss of life. My DC staff and interns are all safe and accounted for. My thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery are with the bystander injured today.”
Rep. John Larson also released a statement: “Today we were reminded of the threats law enforcement officers face each day. I am supremely thankful that my staff and colleagues were kept safe by the quick action of the Capitol Police, and I hope for a speedy recovery for the bystander injured today.”