While most members of Congress were away from the Hill on Friday, news of a second violent incident at the Capitol complex in less than three months weighed on Washington officials, including President Joe Biden.
A Capitol Police officer was killed on Good Friday after a man rammed a car into two officers at a barricade outside of the Capitol, and then emerged wielding a knife. The acting Capitol Police chief confirmed that the driver stabbed one of the officers, and authorities subsequently shot the suspect, who died at a hospital.
Biden said in a statement that he had ordered that the White House flags be lowered to half-mast.
“Jill and I were heartbroken to learn of the violent attack at a security checkpoint on the U.S. Capitol grounds, which killed Officer William Evans of the U.S. Capitol Police, and left a fellow officer fighting for his life. We send our heartfelt condolences to Officer Evans’ family, and everyone grieving his loss,” the president said.
“I have been receiving ongoing briefings from my Homeland Security Advisor, and will be getting further updates as the investigation proceeds,” he added.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat, ordered the Capitol flags to be flown at half-staff on Friday, her chief of staff Drew Hamill tweeted, although the process was delayed due to the complex remaining on lockdown for some time after the incident.
Pelosi said in a statement that the country’s “heart has been broken by the tragic and heroic death of one of our Capitol Police heroes: Officer William Evans. He is a martyr for our democracy.”
Biden had traveled to Camp David earlier in the day. White House press secretary Jen Psaki was made aware of the situation at the Capitol as it was unfolding during a press briefing, however. She noted that the president was accompanied by national security aides who would keep him updated on developments.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican, tweeted that he was praying for the Capitol Police officers who were attacked, and that he was “grateful to all the USCP and first responders who are on the scene.”
Upon news of the officer’s death, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat, tweeted that he was “heartbroken.”
“I’m praying for the officer injured and his family,” he wrote. “We’re in their debt.”
And here’s how several other members of Congress responded as the story developed on Friday afternoon.