Possible active shooter at US Capitol as police warn people to ‘stay away’

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US Capitol Police officers clear a stairwell in the Dirksen Senate Office Building amid the scare today (Image: AP)
US Capitol Police officers clear a stairwell in the Dirksen Senate Office Building amid the scare today (Image: AP)

A report of a possible active shooter struck fear into America's political heartland today as police warned people to "stay away".

Armed cops from the US Capitol Police in Washington DC rushed into buildings with rifles and evacuated people down the stairs as a possible active shooter was reported in the Senate Office Buildings. People were told to keep their hands raised and were seen in tears in the the streets being led away.

The scare came ahead of former US President Donald Trump's historic and cataclysmic appearance before a judge in Washington DC tomorrow.

Thankfully, Washington DC's Metropolitan Police Department have now told reporters it seems the report of an active shooter "appears to be a bad call".

Spokesperson Hugh Carew told Politico: "It appears to be a bad call. No injuries and no shooter were located."

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Possible active shooter at US Capitol as police warn people to ‘stay away’People embrace and use their phones in a staging area after being evacuated from Senate office buildings (AP)

Police activity is, however, still ongoing, amid heightened security, and the shelter in place warning is still in force. Police have now said all buildings have been cleared, but not reopened.

Staff and visitors were seen evacuating with their hands raised, some in tears.

The US Capitol Police initially announced on Twitter that the security response was prompted by a "concerning 911 call" regarding a "possible active shooter." However, as of 3pm, the Capitol Police noted that there were no confirmed reports of weapons or gunshots.

Possible active shooter at US Capitol as police warn people to ‘stay away’Cops were seen in the stairwell pointing their guns (AP)

The US Capitol Police tweeted: "Our officers are searching in and around the Senate Office Buildings in response to a concerning 911 call. Please stay away from the area as we are still investigating. We will continue to communicate with the public here.

"If you are inside the Senate Buildings, everyone inside should be sheltering in place as the report was for a possible active shooter. It should be noted that we do not have any confirmed reports of gunshots.

"If you are in the area, follow the directions of our officers."

And in an update as of 3.23pm local time (8.23pm UK time), the Capitol police added: "USCP is still continuing to investigate. Please continue to shelter in place."

And as of 3.43pm local time, they added: "3:43 pm: USCP is still continuing to investigate. Please continue to shelter in place."

Possible active shooter at US Capitol as police warn people to ‘stay away’Distressed government staffers walk out of the Russell Senate Office Building (AP)

And as of 4.04pm local time, they confirmed: "4:04 pm: All buildings have been cleared at this time. The buildings have not been reopened."

"4:17 pm: USCP is standing by to prepare the Senate office buildings for re-entry. There is no active threat at this time," they added at 4.17pm local time.

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And staff in the senate buildings have just been told via an alert to their phones: “All Senate buildings: UPDATE. Police activity related to the report of an internal security threat is ongoing."

Possible active shooter at US Capitol as police warn people to ‘stay away’Police search an area in the basement of the Dirksen Senate Office Building next to the Russell Senate Office Building (AP)

Authorities issued a shelter-in-place order and began searching Senate office buildings near the US after the reports.

Inside the Russell Senate Office Building, officers evacuated the hallways and shouted at people to run outside and away from the building. Outside, tourists watched as dozens of police cars surrounded the area.

Staff and journalists working in the building received an email instructing them to take shelter in a locked room, remain quiet and silence all electronics.

Possible active shooter at US Capitol as police warn people to ‘stay away’Armed officers can be seen surrounding the building (AP)

This scare will be the last thing the US capital city's law enforcement need, as they prepare for one of the most historic and fraught moments in the nation's history tomorrow.

Trump faces criminal charges connected to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and the storming by his supporters of the US Capitol building, which amounted to an insurrection and led to the deaths of five people in the melee.

Mr Carew also told ScrippsNews that "someone called it in but it wasn't true."

Possible active shooter at US Capitol as police warn people to ‘stay away’A US Capitol Police Officer directs traffic away from a blocked off Constitution Avenue as Senate office buildings were evacuated (AP)

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate are currently on recess and the office buildings are generally less crowded than usual. It means barely any politicians would be working in their Washington offices, but thousands of staff and support workers are still at work in all the various buildings.

On Twitter, local man Corey Walters said it was "scary" as he saw a major police response.

He wrote: "Scary. Major police response at the US Capitol Russell Building, police yelling at people to run away.

"Over 50 police cars including DC police and Capitol Police K9s and many officers with long guns. Stay clear of the area. I'm staying well away. Perimeter is increasing as more police arrive."

He added: "I am steering clear of the scene. Heard tactical radio traffic from police about grouping to make plans. Sounds like serious active violence threat. Smelled and saw something but can't confirm if it was tear gas or something else."

Possible active shooter at US Capitol as police warn people to ‘stay away’Police officers watch a doorway into the Russell Senate Office Building (AP)

NBC reports police have blocked access to the underground tunnels which lead to the Senate office buildings from the main Capitol building.

Congressional staff have been sent an email warning them to move inside their office, or seek refuge in the nearest one.

Politics reporter Bryan Metzger tweeted a video from the scene, showing people being led out of the Russell Senate Office Building.

The US capital city is on high alert for Trump's appearance, especially in light of the deadly Jan 6 riots of 2021.

Just last week, Capitol Police told Congress they have been practicing active shooter drills and training in and around the buildings on Capitol Hill, in anticipation of potential threats and to improve response times.

The 45-page indictment against Trump argues some of his claims prior to the Jan 6 insurrection were viewed as dangerous. During a private meeting on January 5, he "grew frustrated" at Pence and told the then-vice president that he would have to publicly criticize him. Concerned for Pence's safety, his chief of staff, Marc Short, alerted the head of Pence's Secret Service detail.

Possible active shooter at US Capitol as police warn people to ‘stay away’Police have evacuated the buildings (NEWSMAX)

The indictment also outlines how Trump worked to falsely convince his supporters that Pence had the power to overturn the results.
Immediately after their final conversation before the riot, on the morning of Jan 6, the indictment alleges that Trump revised the speech he was set to give at the Ellipse, "reinserting language that he had personally drafted earlier that morning - falsely claiming that the Vice President had authority to send electoral votes to the states - but that advisors had previously successfully advocated be removed."

Trump, in his speech, repeated his false claims of election fraud and again gave false hope to his supporters that Pence had the power to change the outcome.

Possible active shooter at US Capitol as police warn people to ‘stay away’Former US President Donald Trump could finally be about to face the music (Getty Images)

Not long after, hundreds of Trump's supporters were slamming through barricades, battling with police and breaking into the Capitol building - some chanting "Hang Mike Pence" as the former vice president and his family were rushed to safety.

Even after the rioters were cleared from the Capitol and Congress reconvened to certify the results, Trump's allies were still pushing Pence, emailing his attorney to urge that he seek further delay by adjourning the session for 10 days.

Pence instead certified the election, finalising his and Trump's defeat.

We'll be bringing you the very latest updates, pictures and videos on this breaking news story.

Joseph Wilkes

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