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Amid Reports Of Shots Fired At U.S. Capitol, An Account From The Grounds
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Amid Reports Of Shots Fired At U.S. Capitol, An Account From The Grounds

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Amid Reports Of Shots Fired At U.S. Capitol, An Account From The Grounds

Amid Reports Of Shots Fired At U.S. Capitol, An Account From The Grounds
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The U.S. Capitol went on lockdown after reports of shots fired. Paul Singer, Washington correspondent for USA Today, was having coffee in the cafe at the time. He describes what happened next.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The U.S. Capitol was on lockdown earlier today after a man drew a weapon in the screening area of the Visitor Center. Police shot and wounded the man. One bystander suffered minor injuries. Both were taken to the hospital.

Congress is in recess, so Paul Singer was one of just a few people inside the Capitol Complex. He's a Washington correspondent for USA Today.

PAUL SINGER: The interesting thing is, there had been a shelter-in-place drill earlier today on the Capitol grounds. And so you can sort of tell the difference because there was no doubt when I saw these police officers sprint out of the cafe that they were going someplace with a purpose. You know, their eyes were wide, and they were grabbing for their guns.

MCEVERS: Police say there's no reason to believe the incident was more than a criminal act. The suspect was known to them. We will bring you more as we learn it.

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Suspect In Custody After Drawing A Weapon At U.S. Capitol

Police establish a perimeter during a lockdown during the emergency at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center on Monday. i

Police establish a perimeter during a lockdown during the emergency at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center on Monday. Win McNamee/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Win McNamee/Getty Images
Police establish a perimeter during a lockdown during the emergency at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center on Monday.

Police establish a perimeter during a lockdown during the emergency at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center on Monday.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

U.S. Capitol Police shot a man at the Capitol Visitor Center on Monday afternoon after he drew a weapon during a routine security screening, Chief of the U.S. Capitol Police Matthew Verderosa said at a news conference.

Verderosa said the man pulled "what appeared to be a weapon" and an officer shot him. A weapon was recovered at the scene.

Capitol Police later identified the suspect as Larry R. Dawson, 66, of Tennessee and said he has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon and assault on a police officer while armed.

The statement adds, "The defendant is currently in stable but critical condition and will be presented to the District of Columbia Superior Court upon his release from the hospital. The defendant's vehicle has been secured and will be searched upon the granting of a search warrant."

Verderosa said the suspect is known to the Capitol Police from prior contact and there is "no reason to believe this is anything more than a criminal act."

An female bystander also suffered injuries that appeared to be minor, Verderosa said.

A lockdown at the Capitol Complex was lifted shortly after the suspect was apprehended.

Early news reports said at least one officer had been wounded; these reports were incorrect.

Staffers, reporters and others had been told to "shelter in place" and were not allowed to exit or enter any buildings. Congress is currently in recess. The Senate Sergeant-At-Arms Office said that the Capitol is open for official business.

The White House was briefly put on lockdown, according to news reports.

Washington's Metropolitan Police Department tweeted that there "is no active threat to the public."

The Associated Press reported that "visitors were being turned away from the Capitol as emergency vehicles flooded the street and the plaza on the building's eastern side. Police, some carrying long guns, cordoned off the streets immediately around the building, which were thick with tourists visiting for spring holidays and the Cherry Blossom Festival."

The Visitor Center is part of the U.S. Capitol Complex, a group of about a dozen buildings in Washington, according to its website. The center opened in 2008 and serves as an underground screening point for visitors to the U.S. Capitol. After years of discussion about a facility for visitors, construction on the center began after the 1998 killing of two U.S. Capitol Police officers at the ground floor entrance.

This is a developing story. Some things that get reported by the media will later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.

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