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Senate offices evacuated after ‘bad call’ about active shooter

Call came into D.C. Metropolitan Police, who alerted Capitol Police

Police and emergency personnel stand near the Russell Senate Office Building on Wednesday after unconfirmed reports of an active shooter.
Police and emergency personnel stand near the Russell Senate Office Building on Wednesday after unconfirmed reports of an active shooter. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Capitol Hill was put on lockdown Wednesday following a report of an active shooter that the Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger said “may have been a bogus call.”

The Metropolitan Police Department received the call of an active shooter at the Capitol complex at around 2:30 p.m. and relayed it to the Capitol Police. No injuries and no shooter were located but Capitol Police issued alerts as late as 3:59 p.m. saying the threat was ongoing.

“A call came in for an active shooter. It appears to be a bad call. No injuries and no shooter were located. MPD is assisting US Capitol Police,” Officer Hugh Carew said in a statement to CQ Roll Call.

Manger said at a press conference shortly before 4 p.m. that all three Senate office buildings had been cleared. Videos of the incident had shown people quickly leaving an office building, some with their hands in the air. The House and Senate are not in session.

“So far nothing. We found nothing concerning,” Manger said, adding that officers responded to the call “within seconds.”

An email saying the threat had been cleared was sent at 4:18 p.m. and staff were seen returning to the Russell building at approximately 4:30 p.m.

Manger said around 200 officers went through the Senate buildings to clear them.

Staffers in the Senate were first directed to take shelter inside their offices, lock the doors and remain quiet due to a “security threat inside the building” at 2:47 p.m.

Before the alarms went off in Russell, one staffer looked down the stairwell and saw three officers with their guns drawn. That staffer ran inside and locked the office door. About 10 minutes later, an alarm went off and the staffers then barricaded the door to their office. 

“It took a while for the alarm to go off between the time that we saw people down here and the alarm going off,” the Senate staffer told Roll Call.

Officers with body armor and rifles showed up to the office where the staffer works, knocked and announced themselves as Capitol Police. They got those staffers outside within 15 minutes.

“When we got out there, they’re asking us if we saw the guy or know what he looks like,” the aide said.

Another staffer who was caught between the Capitol Visitor Center and the Senate when the lockdown happened said it was a confusing situation at first. 

“In the beginning it’s all just conflicting stuff — you don’t know what the hell is going on,” the Senate staffer said.

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