A attacker rammed a vehicle into a police barricade outside the Capitol building Friday afternoon, killing one officer and injuring another, the department’s acting chief Yogananda Pittman told reporters during a press conference roughly two hours after initial reports of the assault surfaced.
Officer William “Billy” Evans, an 18-year veteran of the police and a member of the “First Responders Unit,” was confirmed by Pittman later Friday.
“It is with profound sadness that I share the news of the passing of Officer William ‘Billy’ Evans this afternoon from injuries he sustained following an attack at the North Barricade by a lone assailant,” she said in a statement, shortly after informing reporters that the officer’s name will not be released before his family was informed.
Pittman said during the press conference that the attacker, who was shot by officers after ramming his car into a police barricade on Constitution Avenue and brandishing a knife, had also died.
Noah Green, according to federal and local law enforcement sources, has been named as the perpetrator. He was 25 years old, according to a federal source.
The investigation into the attack is still underway, according to Pittman, but the immediate threat seems to have passed. After law enforcement concluded that the “external security threat” had passed, the USCP lifted the Capitol’s hour-long lockdown on Friday afternoon.
Despite a recent reduction in some additional preventive measures, the deadly incident serves as a grim reminder of the violent rebellion that occurred less than three months ago and the ongoing security issues that have been top of mind for many on Capitol Hill in the period since.
As the crisis unfolded on Friday, police and National Guardsmen moved rapidly, rushing to protect the Capitol as threats of violence started to surface.
That timeline matches what a senior congressional aide and a US Capitol Police source told CNN earlier in the day on Friday. According to reports at the time, the driver of the vehicle left the vehicle brandishing a knife after ramming his car into a barricade on Constitution Road. Police responded by shooting the suspect and apprehending him.
At least one of the officers was stabbed, according to a law enforcement source.
Green, the suspect, was unknown to USCP prior to Friday’s assault, according to Pittman. Green had posted in the weeks before that he had lost his job and was suffering from medical problems, and that he believed the federal government was threatening him with “mind control,” according to a study of his social media.
Green shared a number of Instagram stories on an account that appears to belong to him less than two hours before he was shot and killed, including links to other Instagram videos of Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan speaking.
“The U.S. Government is the #1 enemy of Black people!” a caption on one video read. In another post on the Instagram account, Green wrote last week that he believed Farrakhan had saved him “after the terrible afflictions I have suffered presumably by the CIA and FBI, government agencies of the United States of America.”
The death of Officer Evans has set a pall over Washington once more. According to the department’s records, only four USCP officers had been killed in the line of duty prior to this year, but it is now mourning the loss of one of its own for the second time in just as many months.
Pittman’s voice trembled as she told reporters about Evans’ death Friday, though he wasn’t named until later in the day, and again in a statement released by the department, which said members were “devastated” by the news.
President Joe Biden and lawmakers from both parties extended their condolences to Evans’ relatives, echoing the sentiment.
“Jill and I were heartbroken to learn of the violent attack at a security checkpoint on the U.S. Capitol grounds, which killed Officer William Evans of the U.S. Capitol Police, and left a fellow officer fighting for his life.” Biden said.
“We send our heartfelt condolences to Officer Evans’ family, and everyone grieving his loss. We know what a difficult time this has been for the Capitol, everyone who works there, and those who protect it,” he added.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Evans “a martyr for our democracy,” adding his death was “tragic and heroic.”
Evans’ “name will go down in history for his selfless sacrifice,” said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican.
“Once again, brave officers of the United States Capitol Police have been violently attacked while simply doing their job,” McConnell added.
In Evans’ honor, Pelosi ordered that the flags flying over the US Capitol be lowered to half-staff, according to her spokesman Drew Hammill. Biden also ordered the White House flags to be lowered to half-staff.
The incident on Friday is still under wraps, but police officials say it appears to be unrelated to terrorism.
In a statement released Friday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas emphasized the lack of transparency surrounding the situation, saying that “there is still much to be learned about this attack” and pledging his department’s full support to the US Capitol Police and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser as the investigation continues.
Biden said Friday that he has “been receiving ongoing briefings from my Homeland Security Advisor, and will be getting further updates as the investigation proceeds.”