GUNFIRE ON CAPITAL HILL

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A gunman was shot by Capitol Police Monday afternoon and later taken into custody, officials said, after drawing a weapon on officers at the tourist-heavy U.S. Capitol Visitor Center – an incident that sent the Capitol complex and the White House into lockdown.

U.S. Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa said one bystander was injured, though apparently not severely, in the incident.

Speaking to reporters, Verderosa also corrected initial reports that a U.S. Capitol Police officer had been shot. The police chief said “no officers were injured.”

“There is no reason to believe that this is anything more than a criminal act,” he said.

The chief’s brief comments helped bring some measure of clarity to the confusion on Capitol Hill, two hours after reports first surfaced of shots being fired – all occurring a week after the Brussels terror attack put major cities around the world on high alert.

The chief said the suspect was transported to the hospital and is undergoing surgery. “His condition is unknown at this time,” he said.
The suspect has been identified as Larry Dawson. Officials said he is known to law enforcement, and Verderosa said he’s frequented the Capitol grounds before.

Dawson, 56, of Antioch, Tenn., was arrested in October and a stay-away order was issued.

A bench warrant was issued for his arrest after he was to return to court in November, but did not show up. In January, Dawson wrote the Court a letter in which he claimed to be exempt from laws because he is a prophet of God.

The suspect’s vehicle, which was discovered nearby, is now being searched.

It’s unclear whether any shots were fired by the suspect himself during the confrontation at the visitor center, or whether they were only fired by officers on the scene.

Verderosa did not explain how the unidentified bystander was injured, but described those injuries as “minor.”

The incident started when the suspect set off a metal detector. Verderosa confirmed Monday afternoon that the suspect “drew what appeared to be a weapon and pointed it at officers,” after which at least one officer fired on him and struck him.

The FBI responded, and there do not appear to be any threats to other parts of the city.

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