US Capitol evacuated as baseball parachute display seen as ‘possible threat’ | Washington Citizen

The US Capitol was briefly evacuated Wednesday night after police identified a plane they said posed a “possible threat” to the heart of the American government.

The plane turned out to be a member of the US Army’s Golden Knights, who parachuted into the National Park for a pre-match show. The stadium, home of the Washington Nationals baseball team, is a little over a mile away from the Capitol.

Warnings from the US Capitol Police sent congressional staff fleeing the Capitol and the legislature at around 6:30 p.m.

The incident demonstrated a stunning communication breakdown between the military, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Capitol Police, all the more remarkable given Washington’s focus on improving security since the January 6 attacks on the Capitol.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blamed the FAA in a statement late Wednesday, saying “the apparent failure to notify Capitol Police of the pre-planned Nationals Stadium flyover is outrageous and inexcusable.” The FAA did not respond to a request for comment.

Kelli LeGaspi, spokeswoman for U.S. Army Recruiting Command, which is behind the Golden Knights demonstration, released a statement saying, “We reviewed all aspects of the event to ensure all procedures were followed appropriately to coordinate flights and parachutes. demonstration.”

Many working on Capitol Hill remain restless more than a year after hundreds of pro-Trump rioters broke through overwhelmed police officers, broke through windows and doors and ransacked the Capitol as Congress voted to ratify Joe Biden’s election victory.

In Wednesday’s incident, the plane took off from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland and had been circling in very restricted airspace near the Capitol when the alert was sent. Radar tracking data shows the plane remains clear of restricted airspace over the Capitol and other government complexes at all times. Air traffic control footage captured the army plane coordinating its flight with the control tower at nearby Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport.

Investigators are still working to determine why the event was not properly coordinated with law enforcement officials in Washington, two people familiar with the matter told the Associated Press. Several federal agents began ruffling officials as the planes circled overhead.

The capital area is defended by several surface-to-air missile sites, as well as a round-the-clock military air crew. There doesn’t appear to be a randomized system.

Officials believe, based on a preliminary review, the pilot may not have reported the takeoff properly or had the appropriate clearance, sources told the AP.

“Congress looks forward to reviewing the results of the review after thorough action that determines what actually went wrong today and who in the Federal Aviation Administration will be held accountable for this outrageous and egregious wrongdoing,” Pelosi said.

The plane landed back at Andrews at about 6:50 p.m. after the parachutists descended to land on a field in Nationals Park.

One witness to the chaos at the Capitol was Eireann Dolan, wife of Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle. “I was walking the dog through the Dirksen Senate Office Building,” Dolan tweeted. “People started pouring out all at once. They told me to turn around and leave as quickly as possible. Some people are calm but many are really panicking. I know me.”

The buildings in the Capitol complex reopened a little after 8pm.

US Capitol evacuated as baseball parachute display seen as ‘possible threat’ | Washington Citizen

Source link US Capitol evacuated as baseball parachute display seen as ‘possible threat’ | Washington Citizen

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