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Capitol Police Probe Report of Gunshots

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/05/26/D8HRJJG80.html Capitol Police Probe Report of Gunshots May 26 1:23 PM US/Eastern By LIZ SIDOTI Associated Press Writer
    Message 1 of 1 , May 26, 2006
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      http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/05/26/D8HRJJG80.html

      Capitol Police Probe Report of Gunshots
      May 26 1:23 PM US/Eastern

      By LIZ SIDOTI
      Associated Press Writer

      WASHINGTON

      Guns drawn, police briefly sealed off the Capitol
      Friday and launched a floor-by-floor search of the
      largest office structure on Capitol Hill after an
      unidentified caller reported gunfire. Amid chaos and
      confusion, police said there were no injuries, arrests
      or confirmation of the gunfire.

      "The report is that shots were fired" at 10:30 a.m.
      EDT in the garage of the Rayburn House Office
      Building, said Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt.
      Kimberly Schneider.

      "We have not gotten any reports of anybody being
      captured, anybody being arrested," she said.

      On high alert, police lined the street between the
      Capitol and the Rayburn building, rifles prominently
      displayed, and four ambulances, two firetrucks and
      other emergency vehicles were on standby outside the
      office structure. Police methodically searched the
      sprawling building, where congressional staff had
      locked themselves into their offices as a precaution.

      An Associated Press reporter overheard a dispatch on a
      police radio saying police were looking for someone
      who was about 6 feet tall. It was not known whether
      the dispatch was related to the incident at Rayburn.

      Schneider said the search and massive police
      deployment was triggered by a single telephone call
      from an unidentified individual. Police had no other
      confirmation of gunfire, she said at a noon EDT news
      conference.

      "Right now we want to err on the side of caution,"
      Schneider said. "Lives could be at risk. If we have a
      gunman in the building we certainly want to find him.
      It's premature to assume that it may not be a gunman."

      The Senate was in session at the time, but the House
      was not as most lawmakers had left for the Memorial
      Day recess.

      Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., conducting a House
      Intelligence Committee hearing, interrupted a witness
      to request those attending the meeting to remain in
      the room and said the doors must be closed.

      "It's a little unsettling to get a Blackberry message
      put in front of you that says there's gunfire in the
      building," he said.

      The search was a complicated one and police said it
      could take hours. The building, which covers an entire
      city block, is connected to a second office building
      by an underground tunnel. That building, in turn, is
      connected to the Capitol by a second underground
      tunnel.

      The Rayburn House Office Building was completed in
      early 1965 and is the third of three office buildings
      constructed for the U.S. House of Representatives. It
      sits across the street from the Capitol. The building
      has four stories above ground, two basements and three
      levels of underground garage space.

      Nearly two hours after the first alert, Capitol police
      sent an email message to occupants of the office
      building saying they would soon begin a floor-by-floor
      search.

      "During the search, the police officers will knock
      three times on each office door, announce 'United
      States Capitol Police,' knock three additional times,"
      and then confirm their identity by speaking a code
      word, it said.

      Steven Broderick, press spokesman for Rep. William
      Delahunt, D-Mass., was in his car in the Rayburn
      garage Friday morning getting ready to drive his boss
      to the airport, when he was ordered by a Capitol
      Police officer to park the car and put his hands on
      the steering wheel. The officer then told him to run
      toward an exit where other officers where gathered.

      "He just told me to run and don't look back,"
      Broderick said.

      A second Associated Press reporter heard noise outside
      a Rayburn press room and peeked out the door. A police
      officer, gun drawn, shouted, "Get in the room. Get in
      the room."

      The U.S. Capitol Police Department's Containment &
      Emergency Response Team maintains an indoor shooting
      range in the basement of the Rayburn building,
      according to the department's Web site. Eleanor Holmes
      Norton, the District of Columbia's delegate to
      Congress, raised the possibility that noises from a
      nearby construction site were mistaken for gunfire.

      "No one's panicking, everyone's calm," said Charles
      Isom, spokesman for Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah. "It did
      ruin some people's lunch plans."

      The incident occurred at the end of a week of
      unusually tumultuous series of events that ironically
      enough, began in the same building. FBI agents armed
      with a search warrant seized documents and computer
      material from the first office of Rep. William
      Jefferson, D-La., in a weekend raid. Jefferson is at
      the center of a federal bribery investigation.

      At the Capitol, police quickly closed all doors,
      stopping people from either entering the building.
      Tourists were herded into a first-floor chamber in the
      middle of the building.

      The Capitol was reopened within an hour, then sealed
      back off by police, and eventually opened to the
      public again about 12:30 p.m. EDT.

      ___

      Associated Press Writers Jim Abrams, Katherine
      Shrader, Suzanne Gamboa, David Espo, John Heilprin,
      Mary Dalrymple, Andrew Miga, Lara Jakes Jordan and Sam
      Hananel contributed to this report.
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