Capitol Police are investigating “bomb risk” close to the Library of Congress

WASHINGTON – The United States Capitol Police negotiated with a man who claimed they had a bomb in a pickup truck outside the Library of Congress on Thursday, resulting in the evacuation of government buildings in the area.

The man drove a black pickup onto the sidewalk of the Library of Congress at around 9:15 a.m. Thursday morning, and police responded to a nuisance call, Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger said at a news conference.

When police arrived, the man said he had a bomb and one of the officers saw an explosive device in his hand, Chief Manger said.

The police are negotiating with the man, he said. It was unclear whether he actually had explosives.

“We don’t know what his motives are at this point,” said Chief Manger. He confirmed that some of these negotiations were streamed live on social media and said the police had “a possible name” for the person.

“We are trying to collect as much information as possible to find a way to solve the problem peacefully,” he said. Chief Manger declined to describe the conversation between the man and the negotiators.

In warnings to Capitol Hill staff early Thursday, police urged some people to move around offices, lock doors and stay away from windows, and urged others to evacuate to designated meeting areas.

The Metropolitan Police Department “helped report an active bomb threat with a suspicious vehicle” and “is currently evacuating the area,” said a spokeswoman, Alaina Gertz.

The Capitol Police declined to provide details of the investigation and directed questions to the agency’s Twitter account, urging people to stay out of the area.

With lawmakers scattered across the country for a scheduled August recess, most of the congressional officials were not on Capitol Hill when much of the complex was cordoned off. Many of the evacuated workers work for the Capitol architect staff, building clerks, and workers helping with construction. And while thousands of people typically work in each office building, the pandemic has limited the number of people.

The Supreme Court building was evacuated shortly after 10 a.m., a spokeswoman Patricia McCabe said.

When the police investigated, they blocked several nearby streets around the 100 block of First Street SE. Technicians from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives joined the officers at the scene.

Just before 11 a.m., dozens of people streamed out of the Madison building after officials told them to leave the building.

“Everyone is heading south now,” said a Capitol policeman as other officials led construction workers away from work on the street and asked guests outside a cafe to leave their tables.

Ultimately, much of the crowd, some with laptops and tangled handfuls of charging cables and headphones, ended up in a park near the building, calling family members, trying to get home.

The threat unsettled Capitol visitors and employees eight months after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the hill on Jan. 6 to prevent Congress from confirming the presidential election results.

In fact, following the January 6 riots and the death of a Capitol Hill officer in early April, precautionary measures to investigate suspicious packages have intensified for staff on the hill in the face of tightened security.

The Madison building workers were alerted to the potential threat through alarms before officers left the building on the building intercom.

On the street, staff were told to go home or leave the complex, although some could not reach their cars and the nearest subway station appeared to be closed.

“You’re just careful – they don’t want to take any chances,” said Paul Hines, a building technician evacuated from Madison. Mr Hines, who livestreamed a news report to his cell phone, left his cell phone charger, lunch, and most of his belongings in it.

“I wasn’t expecting that,” he added. “I was just about to have my lunch.”

Adam Goldman, Glenn Thrush and Nicholas Fandos contributed to the coverage.

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