WASHINGTON (AP) — A deadly breach of the U.S. Capitol’s perimeter could delay the gradual reopening of the building’s grounds to the public just as lawmakers were eyeing a return to more normal security measures following the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Capitol Police officer William “Billy” Evans, an 18 year veteran of the force, was killed Friday when a man rammed his car into a barrier immediately outside the U.S. Senate side of the building. The driver, identified as 25-year-old Noah Green, was shot and killed after he got out of his car and lunged at police with a knife.
The incident came fewer than two weeks after the Capitol Police removed an outer fence that had cut off a wide swath of the area off completely from vehicular and police traffic, an effort to secure the complex after thousands of former President Donald Trump’s supporters marched on the building Jan. 6 and around 800 of them broke inside. That violence lead to five deaths, including a Capitol Police officer.
While lawmakers hated the fencing in bipartisan fashion – with some calling it an overreaction – the police who took the brunt of the siege that day have still left an inner fencing perimeter intact, as they try to ensure the safety of the complex and the lawmakers who work there.
The tall, dark fencing – parts of it covered in razor wire until recently -- was not only a nuisance to those who lived in the area, blocking major arteries that cross the city, but also a stark symbol of the fear many in the Capitol felt after the violent mob laid siege to the Capitol. Lawmakers said the seat of American democracy was meant to be open to the people, even if there was always going to be a threat.
But after Friday’s incident, lawmakers said they needed to procced with caution.