The U.S. Capitol Police on Wednesday afternoon evacuated staff from at least one Senate office building and instructed others to “shelter in place” after receiving a report of an active shooter on Capitol Hill.
Police said they had not confirmed the report, but it led to a panicked situation across from the Capitol during an otherwise sleepy summer afternoon when lawmakers are out of town for their August recess.
A spokeswoman for the D.C. police department said a call to 911 warned of an active shooter, prompting the Capitol Police to launch a furious search of the property. The D.C. police were assisting with the investigation. The spokeswoman said no shooter had been found, and no shots confirmed, but the investigation was continuing.
Congress recessed last week for a five-week break, but the Capitol complex is full of staff aides who continue to work. In a security alert sent out just after 3 p.m., staff members were told to find a place to hide and to seek cover. They were ordered to stay away from doors and windows.
On the streets around the Capitol, police officers could be heard telling people to run. Capitol Police officers came into one Senate office building carrying long guns and evacuated everyone on the ground floor, according to a witness. Some staff members were led out with their hands raised. Others on higher floors remained sheltering in place, said the witness, who described the scene on the condition of anonymity.
A large police presence, including the District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department, was visible at the Capitol.
The House sergeant-at-arms asked staff members on the House side of the building to avoid the Senate office buildings.
“Our officers are searching in and around the Senate Office Buildings in response to a concerning 911 call. Please stay away from the area as we are still investigating. We will continue to communicate with the public here,” the agency wrote on Twitter. “If you are inside the Senate Buildings, everyone inside should be sheltering in place as the report was for a possible active shooter. It should be noted that we do not have any confirmed reports of gunshots.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.
Karoun Demirjian contributed reporting.