Capitol Police Chief Says Violent Attack on US Capitol ‘Unlike Anything’ He Ever Experienced

January 7, 2021 by Dan McCue
Capitol police officers in riot gear push back demonstrators who try to break a door of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund said Wednesday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol was unlike anything he’s experienced in his 30 years in law enforcement in Washington D.C.

In a written statement, Sund went on to defend his department in the face of criticism over the apparent ease with which protestors breached and ransacked the Capitol, saying Capitol police officers and its law enforcement partners “responded valiantly when faced with thousands of individuals involved in violent riotous actions as they stormed the United States Capitol Building. 

“These individuals actively attacked United States Capitol police officers and other uniformed law enforcement officers with metal pipes, discharged chemical irritants, and took up other weapons against our officers. They were determined to enter into the Capitol Building by causing great damage,” he said.

Sund also revealed the name of the woman who was shot and killed at the Capitol.

She was Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran from California.

According to Sund, Babbitt was among the protesters who forced their way toward the House chamber where members of Congress were sheltering in place.

She was fatally shot by an unidentified member of the Capitol Police force, who has since been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of a joint Metropolitan Police Department and USCP investigation.

Sund said medical assistance was rendered to Babbitt at the scene and she was transported to a local hospital, where she died of her injuries.

The chief of police also discussed the wider drama that unfolded on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

He said as “violent events” were unfolding across the Capitol Complex, his officers were simultaneously responding to a report of a pipe bomb in the 300 block of First Street, SE, and a second pipe bomb in the 400 block of Canal Street, SE. 

A suspicious vehicle was also identified in the 300 block of First Street, SE, at this time, he said.

A USCP hazardous materials response team determined both devices were, in fact, hazardous and could cause great harm to public safety. 

The devices were disabled and turned over to the FBI for further investigation and analysis.

The suspicious vehicle was ultimately deemed not to be a hazard, but Capitol Police arrested the vehicle’s owner along with 13 additional suspects for unlawful entry of the U.S. Capitol. 

D.C. Metro police said they arrested an additional 69 people from at least 20 states and the District Wednesday afternoon through early Thursday, most on curfew and unlawful entry charges.

“Maintaining public safety in an open environment – specifically for First Amendment activities – has long been a challenge,” Sund said. The USCP had a robust plan established to address anticipated First Amendment activities. 

“But make no mistake – these mass riots were not First Amendment activities; they were criminal riotous behavior,” he said. “The actions of the USCP officers were heroic given the situation they faced, and I continue to have tremendous respect in the professionalism and dedication of the women and men of the United States Capitol Police.”

In addition, the FBI issued a public call Thursday for “tips and digital media” that would help them identify rioters who invaded and vandalized the historic landmark.

“The FBI is seeking information that will assist in identifying individuals who are actively instigating violence in Washington, DC,” it said on its website.

“The FBI is accepting tips and digital media depicting rioting and violence in the U.S. Capitol Building and surrounding area in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021.”

To submit videos or photos of the riot, click here.

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