While most members of Congress were off the hill on Friday, news of a second violent incident at the Capitol complex in less than three months weighed on Washington officials, including President Joe Biden.
A Capitol Police officer was killed after a man rammed a car into two officers at a barricade outside the Capitol and then showed up with a knife. The Acting Capitol Police Chief confirmed that the driver stabbed one of the officers, and authorities subsequently shot the suspect, who died in a local hospital.
Biden said in a statement that he had ordered the White House flags to be lowered to half the staff. “Jill and I were broken when we learned of the violent attack at a security checkpoint on the US Capitol grounds that killed officer William Evans and a fellow officer fighting for his life. We offer our deep condolences to the family of Officer Evans and all who mourn his loss, ”said the president.
"I have received ongoing information from my homeland security advisor and will receive further updates as the investigation progresses," he added.
House spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat, ordered the flag of the Capitol to be hoisted on half poles on Friday. Their chief of staff, Drew Hamill, tweeted though the process was delayed as the complex was still on lockdown for some time after the lockdown incident.
Pelosi said in a statement that the “heart of the country was broken by the tragic and heroic death of one of our heroes on the Capitol Police: Officer William Evans. He is a martyr for our democracy. "
Biden had traveled to Camp David earlier that day. White House press secretary Jen Psaki was made aware of the situation in the Capitol when it unfolded during a press conference. She noted that the president was accompanied by national security personnel who would keep him informed of developments.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, tweeted that he was praying for the attacked Capitol police officers and "grateful to all USCP and first responders who are on the scene."
Following news of the official's death, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat, tweeted that he was "heartbroken."
"I pray for the injured officer and his family," he wrote. "We are indebted to them."
And so did several other members of Congress reacting as the story unfolded on Friday afternoon.