US Capitol sealed off after ‘gunshots’ heard


Richard Moore

Original source URL:,,11069-2198761,00.html

Times Online
May 26, 2006

US Capitol sealed off after 'gunshots' heard
By Times Online and agencies

Police sealed off part of Capitol Hill today after reports that gunshots had 
been heard in the garage of a House of Representatives office building.

The shots were heard in the garage level of the Rayburn building, which houses 
offices of members of the US House of Representatives.

Bill Pickle, the Senate Sergeant at Arms, told Reuters: "We have been told by 
staff of shots fired and the smell of smoke in the lobby of the Rayburn House 
building." Mr Pickle said that there were no reports of any injuries.

Peter Hoekstra, a Congressman conducting a House Intelligence Committee hearing,
interrupted a witness to request those attending to remain in the room and said 
that the doors must be closed.

"It¹s a little unsettling to get a BlackBerry message put in front of you that 
says there¹s gunfire in the building," he said.

The House was adjourned for a US holiday weekend and Mr Hoekstra¹s committee 
meeting is the only business known to have been in progress. The Senate remained
in session without interruption.

At the same time, Capitol police went room to room in at least parts of the 
Capitol advising staff to stay in their offices, according a House aide whose 
office was advised.

"They want us to stay in our offices, and I¹m perfectly happy to do that, but I 
don¹t feel endangered," said Gene Smith, chief of staff to Howard Berman of 
California, whose office is in Rayburn.

"They said they heard gunfire in the Rayburn garage, but this is a huge 
building," Smith added. "I¹m guessing it¹s a car backfiring or balloons 

A spokeswoman for Capitol police said: "At 10.30am we received a report of shots
fired inside the Rayburn building. The information came from a call-in. We have 
many tactical units inside the building. The entire Rayburn building is being 
searched and that includes the firearms range there.

"We have no reports of anyone being captured, or of any injuries at this time. 
Part of the search includes looking for anyone who may have a weapon.

"Right now we want to err on the side of caution. If we have a gunman in the 
building, we want to find him."

The fleet of ambulances parked outside the building were there as a precaution, 
the spokeswoman added.

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