Police gather around a car driven onto the Capitol plaza in Washington Monday, Sept. 18. A man crashed his vehicle into a security barricade at the Capitol, ran into the building and was arrested, forcing the complex to briefly be locked down.
Photo credit: (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)
An armed man ran through the U.S. Capitol after crashing his vehicle on the Capitol grounds Monday in the worst breach of security since a gunman killed two police officers in 1998.
Acting Capitol Police Chief Christopher McGaffin identified the intruder as Carlos Greene, 20, of Silver Spring, Md. He said Greene, tackled after a foot chase through the Capitol, was armed with a loaded handgun and had crack cocaine in his possession.
Greene appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance and "exhibited signs of seizure," McGaffin said. He was taken to Greater Southeast Community Hospital.
Police planned to charge Greene with federal felony possession of a handgun and assault of a police officer, McGaffin said.
"This was unacceptable by my expectations for Capitol Police," McGaffin said. "It was an unfortunate breach of our security."
He said Greene, driving an SUV stolen earlier in the day, slammed into a police vehicle blocking an entrance to a major construction site on Capitol's east side, across from the Supreme Court.
Greene drove into the site, stopping at a skylight for the new Capitol Visitors Center, which opens next year, McGaffin said, adding that Green then bolted up the Capitol steps, entering the building through a third-floor construction door. He then made his way to the basement on the opposite side of the building before being subdued by police outside an office for distribution of flags that lawmakers present to constituents.
McGaffin said there was no information that Greene was brandishing his weapon and said police chasing him chose not to use deadly force. He praised Capitol police for their actions in capturing the intruder, but said there would be a review of security measures and protocols.
Greene entered at "an access point that must be available to construction vehicles," he said, and "there is a risk. That's why we have concentric rings of security."
The incident occurred shortly before 8:00 a.m. EDT., and the Capitol was locked down for about an hour before reopening for staff and tourists. The House was not in session on Monday and the Senate didn't convene until Monday afternoon.
The visitors center is being built in part to provide an extra layer of security before people enter the Capitol following the 1998 shooting deaths of two Capitol police officers. In that case, a man with a history of mental illness ran through a first-floor door of the Capitol, shot to death one officer at the door and another inside the adjacent office of then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.
Security around the Capitol increased significantly after that shooting, and again after the Sept. 11 attacks.
McGaffin defended a delay of more than nine hours before police released any official details of the intrusion.
"This is a very unusual event for us, fortunately. I wanted to make sure that we had addressed all of the security needs of the complex before I took time to come forward and share any information with you," he told reporters.
"I would say this Capitol is a safe building. It was safe this morning and it is safe tonight," he said.