A lockdown at the United States Capitol building in Washington has been lifted after police shot an alleged gunman while he was trying to enter the building’s visitors centre.
Officials say the man had drawn a gun and pointed it at an officer.
But there does not appear to be any evidence of a terrorism connection.
With members of the United States Congress out of town for the Easter break, the US Capitol building remained crowded with visitors in the midst of a busy spring tourist season.
But their excitement soon turned to panic as word of a shooting forced them to flee.
(First:) “All of a sudden, the police came running, saying, ‘Go, go, go … follow, us follow us.'”
(Second:) “We were going through the visitor center security, and, as I walked through, we heard, ‘Get out, get out, there’s an active shooter!’ The most stressful experience I’ve ever had in my life.”
A Spanish tourist named James has described how he tried to escape in the ensuing chaos.
“When we tried to get out, we found the doors closed, we couldn’t get away. We found people trying to get inside. And we went to the restrooms. We stayed for a few minutes, and, after, we went to the theatre. We stayed for maybe 20 minutes.”
Emergency sirens had been triggered across the grassy National Mall, which extends from the Capitol building all the way to the White House about three kilometres away.
With a lockdown in place, bystanders were ordered to take cover immediately.
Capitol police chief Matthew Verderosa says the incident had unfolded at a security checkpoint in the Capitol building.
He says it involved a suspect likely known to police.
“An adult male subject entered the north screening facility of the Capitol’s visitors centre. During routine administrative screening, the individual drew what appeared to be a weapon and pointed it at officers. An officer fired and struck the suspect, who was subsequently treated by medical personnel. The suspect was taken into custody and transported to the hospital for treatment. The suspect is currently undergoing surgery. His condition is unknown at this time.”
A female bystander is also receiving treatment after sustaining minor injuries.
Contrary to initial reports, no officers have been hurt.
A weapon has been recovered, and police say they have found the suspect’s car on the Capitol grounds.
The shooting happened just hours after US president Barack Obama hosted the annual Easter Egg Roll with families and small children on the south lawn of the White House.
Mr Verderosa says an investigation is underway but, so far, no evidence of any connection to terrorism has materialised.
“I stress that much of this information is still very preliminary. I want to stress that, while this is preliminary, based on the initial investigation, we believe that 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.”