Police Shoot Gunman at US Capitol

Capitol police shot a man identified as Larry Dawson of Tennessee at around 2:40PM EDT at the entrance to the US Capitol Visitor Center. Police say he pointed a gun at them after setting off a metal detector.

Dawson was sent to a hospital for surgery. His condition is unknown. The Capitol’s sergeant-at-arms said an officer was “shot, but not seriously.” An unidentified 35 to 45 year old woman suffered a non-life threatening injury.

A police spokesman said “there is no reason to believe that this was anything more than a criminal act.”

Authorities locked down the Capitol and nearby offices for about a half an hour. They turned visitors away and told those inside to shelter in place. Leslie Stephenson, a nurse visiting from San Diego, saw tourists fleeing from the scene. “They were out of breath and really shaken up.”

The Los Angeles Times reports Dawson shouted he was “a profit of God” from a House of Representatives’ balcony last October. His motive for today’s incident is unclear.

An active shooter drill was announced at the Capitol earlier in the day. “Exercise. Exercise. SHELTER IN PLACE. Gunshots have been reported on Capitol Hill…,” an early morning memo stated. This reportedly led to some confusion.

Police briefly shut down the north and south perimeters to the White House as a precaution. Lawmakers are on recess and were not at risk.

The Capitol Visitor Center is an underground complex with multiple security checks. Once tourists are screened, they proceed on guided tours to the Capitol building itself. It was built in 1998, after a man with mental problems shot dead two police officers at the Capitol building. Before 1998, visitors used the same entrances as lawmakers and their staff.

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