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Statement of Steven Sund, Chief of Police, Regarding the Events of January 6, 2021

January 7, 2021
Press Release

United States Capitol Police (USCP) officers and our 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.

As protesters were forcing their way toward the House Chamber where Members of Congress were sheltering in place, a sworn USCP employee discharged their service weapon, striking an adult female.  Medical assistance was rendered immediately, and the female was transported to the hospital where she later succumbed to her injuries.  She has been identified as Ashli Babbitt.

As per the USCP’s policy, the USCP employee has been placed on administrative leave and their police powers have been suspended pending the outcome of a joint Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and USCP investigation. 

As these other violent events were unfolding across the Capitol Complex, the USCP 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.

The USCP Hazardous Materials Response Team determined that 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 thoroughly investigated by the USCP, FBI, and ATF.  It has been cleared of any hazards.  The USCP arrested the vehicle’s owner along with 13 additional suspects for unlawful entry of the U.S. Capitol.  The USCP is continuing to review surveillance video and open source material to identify others who may be subject to criminal charges. 

The Department is grateful for the assistance provided by more than 18 local, state, and Federal law enforcement agencies and the National Guard.  More than 50 USCP and MPD sustained injuries during the attack on the Capitol.  Several USCP officers have been hospitalized with serious injuries.  

The violent attack on the U.S. Capitol was unlike any I have ever experienced in my 30 years in law enforcement here in Washington, D.C.  Maintaining public safety in an open environment – specifically for First Amendment activities – has long been a challenge. 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.  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. 

The USCP is conducting a thorough review of this incident, security planning and policies and procedures. 

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