WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — Police shot and wounded a man at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center Monday afternoon when he allegedly pulled a gun on officers during a security screening.
As CBS2’s Jessica Schneider reported, the U.S. Capitol was on lockdown for about an hour after the incident. A bystander was also injured.
Multiple charges were approved against the suspect Monday night.
The man entered the Capitol Visitor Center Monday afternoon, took out the weapon during screening, and proceeded to point it at officers, according to Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa.
Officers fired and struck the suspect, Verderosa said. The suspect was treated by medical personnel at the scene, taken into custody, and transported to an area hospital where he was undergoing surgery late Monday, Verderosa said.
A female bystander between the ages of 35 and 45 was reportedly injured by shrapnel, and no Capitol Police officers were injured.
A weapon was recovered at the scene, Verderosa said.
The suspect was identified as Larry Dawson, 66. He is known to Capitol Police and had been seen on Capitol grounds before, Verderosa said. Dawson even has a case pending in court for allegedly disrupting a session of Congress last year.
He was allegedly seen yelling out, “Prophet of God!” in a moment captured by C-Span.
“We believe this is an act of a single person who has frequented the Capitol grounds before, and there is no reason to believe that this is anything more than a criminal act,” Verderosa said.
Cathryn Leff of Temicula, California, in town to lobby with the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, said she was going through security at the main entrance to the Capitol Visitors Center when police told people to leave immediately.
“All of the sudden, there was a just a scramble with people yelling and screaming and officers coming out from every direction — with guns drawn — saying shots had been fired,” Leff said. “Finally, we got some direction. Officers said out the door and just start running, so we started running out the door.”
“Was at the #Visitor’s Center… shots heard while going through #security it was a scramble…#Capitol #Evacuated after hiding behind wall,” Leff wrote on Twitter.
Dianne Bilo was also in the Visitor Center at the time.
“They said run the other way,” she said. “They didn’t tell us what happened.”
Bilo, of Cincinnati, had just left her husband and two of their sons inside the Visitor Center when the shots were fired. Her husband texted her to let her know what was going on.
“He said it sounded like a full clip from a handgun,” Bilo said. “Officers ran down the hallway. They shouted, ‘Cover in place.'”
Congressional staffers were told to shelter in place, and were instructed to lock doors to assigned shelter areas.
The event unfolded with Congress on recess and lawmakers back in their districts. The White House was briefly put on lockdown, but that was soon lifted. A notification sent to Senate offices said no further suspects appeared to be at large, and most Capitol Hill buildings were later re-opened for business.
But visitors were 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.
“I heard two shots, or I don’t know it was like a, ‘Boom, boom,’ sound to my left, and I didn’t see anything,” Leff said, “but then the officer said, ‘We’re going to get you out; get out of this position.’”
Leff added: “I felt like I was in a movie. It didn’t feel real at all.”
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., was at the annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn when the shooting occurred. She tells 1010 WINS the event, which drew 30,000 people, was put on lockdown.
“Everybody is safe on the lawn. At one point they locked it down so no one could leave,” Maloney said. “I brought constituents here for the annual egg roll and people coming here to have a good time and then you have this tragedy happening.”
Traffic was jammed in the vicinity, but despite the obvious emergency the scene was relatively calm. A work crew on the north side of the Supreme Court, across the street, was asked to stop work and move away from the building as a precaution.
From back home in their districts, many lawmakers got in touch with staff to ensure all were safe, and posted thanks on Twitter as it appeared they were.
On Monday night, Dawson, of Tennessee, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and assault on a police officer while armed.
He remained hospitalized in stable, but critical, condition and was to appear in District of Columbia Superior Court once he was released from the hospital.
Police have also impounded Dawson’s vehicle, and it will be searched once a warrant is granted.
(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)