U.S. Capitol Shooting: Report From the Inside

Oct 3, 2013

Credit Matanya / Flickr Creative Commons

Billy House, a Congressional correspondent for National Journal, was in the House chamber at the U.S. Capitol when gunfire was reported outdoors, behind a Senate building nearby. He provided an account of the brief lockdown that occurred in Washington, D.C. on Thursday afternoon.

Below is House's account:

"What we know is that the U.S. Capitol was shut down, and the surrounding buildings also closed, [and there were] reports of gunfire heard from behind a nearby Senate office building. I was in the House chamber at the time when minority leader Nancy Pelosi came in and told members, one by one, essentially, that the shots were outside, not in the building. Many of them were concerned that there was something going on inside the building.

"When the announcement went over the loudspeaker, there was slamming of doors within the building, locked down by security. Many reporters and lawmakers were standing around; many of us didn't know what was going on. There was puzzlement and then concern, including from lawmakers, about what was going on in the building.

"Now, about half an hour later, all TVs inside the Capitol are on, and it's as if we're watching something that's far away, but actually it's right outside the building. This is all taking place, of course, here in Washington, less than a mile and a half from the Navy Yard where the shootings took place late last month. So, obviously, that came across a lot of people's minds.

"Over the last two days, as the shutdown has been going on, outside news conferences and press events held by members have been interrupted by heckles and other jeering by surrounding protesters. There's not a lot of protesters here, but those that are here have let their presence be known. So, obviously, one of the first things that crossed almost anybody's mind was that this is some sort of reaction or response, outburst, with regard to the shutdown. We don't know if that's true yet or not."

The lockdown was lifted a short time later. 

House also reported on the day's events for National Journal