Man Threatens to Jump Into Hart Atrium

Posted July 21, 2008 at 5:58pm

Updated 8:02 p.m.

A standoff is continuing in the Hart Senate Office Building, where a man has been threatening to jump from the seventh floor since about 5:45 p.m.

The unidentified man, who is of Asian descent, is standing outside the office of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on the narrow marble ledge that runs along the glass wall surrounding the building’s 90-foot-tall atrium.

A Mandarin translator is on the scene, said Capitol Police spokeswoman Kimberly Schneider. So far, the man has not been identified and there is no known motive for his actions. But “he doesn’t have to speak English to tell us he wants to hurt himself,” Schneider said.

A crisis negotiator is on the scene, as are officers from the Metropolitan Police Department and D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Schneider said. Three men in white coats could also be seen on the atrium floor.

Dozens of Capitol Police officers have also flooded the building, which is enveloped in an eerie quietness, while staffers continue to leave for the day as if nothing extraordinary is happening.

Schneider said the seventh floor and atrium have been restricted to emergency personnel, and Second Street Northeast is closed to traffic between C and D streets.

The Hart Building, the largest of the Senate’s three office buildings, was completed in 1982. A giant mobile-stabile sculpture by Alexander Calder hangs from the ceiling and is the centerpiece of the atrium.