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U.S. Capitol Police Officer Killed In Attack Near Capitol

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

YOGANANDA PITTMAN: It is with a very, very heavy heart that I announce one of our officers has succumbed to his injuries.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

That's acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman announcing the death of Officer William Evans, an 18-year veteran of the force. Another officer is still in the hospital today but is stable and has non-life-threatening injuries after yesterday's attack on him and his partner as they stood at a barrier on Capitol grounds. The suspect in that attack also died. Several news organizations report he was a 25-year-old man from Indiana. NPR has not confirmed those reports. We're joined now by NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales. Claudia, thanks for being with us.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Thanks for having me, Scott.

SIMON: This has been trying and sad times for the Capitol Police. And that was acknowledged by the chief, wasn't it?

GRISALES: Yes. Capitol Police have lost two officers after the January 6 insurrection. And now you have the loss of a new officer that you mentioned there in this new tragedy. You could hear it in Pittman's voice as she talked to a reporter. Let's take a listen.

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PITTMAN: I just ask that the public continue to keep U.S. Capitol Police and their families in your prayers. This has been an extremely difficult time for U.S. Capitol Police.

GRISALES: The Capitol has seen security installed after the insurrection scaled back in recent weeks. So this will shape current talks on this and how lawmakers can better support these officers.

SIMON: Claudia, as authorities have been able to piece things together, what exactly happened yesterday?

GRISALES: Pittman said that shortly after 1:00 p.m. local time, this suspect entered the north barricade of the Capitol. Normally, this is a busy entrance to the Senate, but Congress was in recess, so it was supposed to be a quiet day. Pittman said the suspect rammed his car into two of their officers, struck a barricade and then exited his vehicle, lunging at officers with a knife, at which time they opened fire. The suspect was pronounced dead, while one of those officers, as we mentioned at the top there, William Evans, who was known as Billy, died. As you mentioned, he was an 18-year veteran. And we know he was a father to two children, Logan and Abigail. This as the other officer remains in the hospital, but he is in stable condition with non-life-threatening injuries.

SIMON: And what response have we had so far from President Biden and congressional leaders?

GRISALES: Biden said he will continue to be briefed on this incident and that he and the first lady, Jill Biden, shared their condolences and gratitude for the Capitol Police. Congressional members struck a similar note. Both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said they both spoke with the Evans family and shared their condolences. Ohio Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan - his subcommittee oversees the Capitol Police - told reporters that this incident ripped off the scab, if you will, that was left after the January 6 insurrection. It hits hard for this family of lawmakers, police and others that have grown closer since the riot.

SIMON: And what's ahead after this incident, Claudia?

GRISALES: So Acting D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee said his department's homicide and internal affairs divisions will investigate the death of the officer and the suspect. Here's what he said.

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ROBERT CONTEE: Clearly this was someone who was actively trying to just get at whoever or whatever. We just don't know right now. So we have a responsibility to investigate that, to get to the bottom of this.

GRISALES: He also told reporters there was no indication this suspect was known to area law enforcement or that this is terrorism-related. But we're expecting this to add to the layers of investigations already ongoing in the aftermath of the insurrection.

SIMON: NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales, thank you so much for being with us.

GRISALES: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.