Police brace for lengthy standoff on Capitol Hill amid active bomb threat

Capitol Police and other law enforcement officials are investigating a claim of an explosive device in a pickup truck that drove onto the sidewalk of the Library of Congress, leading to the evacuation of several congressional office buildings.

Federal agents — including from both the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — were on the scene Thursday morning in an effort to “engage in dialogue” with a man in a truck claiming to have explosives, according to Capitol officials with knowledge of the situation.

“We’re trying to get as much information as we can to find a way to peacefully resolve this,” Capitol Police chief Thomas Manger told reporters in the first public briefing of the situation Thursday afternoon, adding that they have a “possible name and identity” of the suspect but do not have more information. The man is “livestreaming” on social media as the negotiations are underway, according to Manger.

The suspect uploaded multiple videos to social media from his truck viewed by POLITICO in which he espoused anti-government views and demanded to speak to President Joe Biden before he would consider standing down. Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said they had removed the suspect’s profile Thursday afternoon.

Manger said law enforcement does not “know what his motives are at this time” and that “negotiations are ongoing” in an effort to achieve a “peaceful resolution.” He added that buildings were evacuated because the driver told officers on the scene that he had a bomb, and officers noticed what appeared to be a detonator in the man’s hand. As the standoff continued, police canvassed the surrounding neighborhood, urging more residents in the surrounding area to evacuate.

The Capitol Police directed people to “avoid the area around the Library of Congress” in a campus-wide alert. The House sergeant-at-arms said that “due to the nature of the incident, this will likely be a prolonged law enforcement response.”

Capitol police, as well as D.C. Metropolitan Police, plan to hold their first public briefing on the situation later Thursday afternoon.

Staffers in the Cannon and Jefferson buildings were told to use underground tunnels to move to other locations, and those in several other buildings were instructed to stay away from external doors and windows. Staff in the Madison building, which is an extension of the Library of Congress, were also ordered to evacuate.

Metro trains were also bypassing the Capitol South stop as the investigation continued. Capitol Police relocated press to the opposite side of the Capitol while they dealt with the threat. Officers waved drivers away from the avenues leading up Capitol Hill.

Most, if any, lawmakers are not in the building, with the House not scheduled to return for votes until next Monday. Capitol Hill staff and Library of Congress personnel were working on-site Thursday when the evacuations began, though it’s unclear how many staffers were in the building, with many offices allowing their staff to work from home.

Some congressional offices that had been working in person opted to send their staff home by Thursday afternoon, amid the police investigation.

The call to evacuate the Cannon House Office Building on Thursday went out just after 10:00 a.m as staff were told to “remain calm and relocate.” Capitol Police first alerted staffers to the suspicious vehicle threat shortly after 9:30 a.m. Eastern.

On Tuesday, a suspicious package near the Library of Congress prompted a Capitol Police investigation, but the road closures and investigation were ended in just under an hour.

For many Hill staffers, the emergency alerts renewed a sense of anxiety for those who had been in the building for the Jan. 6 riots, with some campus-wide security questions still unanswered. Pipe bombs were found at both the RNC and DNC on Jan. 6 — the campaign headquarters for both parties, located near Capitol Hill — but the perpetrator was never caught.

Katherine Tully-McManus contributed to this report

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