2 Suspicious Packages Found, Cleared Day After Shooting at Capitol Visitor Center

Line of tourists was waiting outside the visitor center when it reopened at 8:15 a.m. But they were quickly turned around after an unattended item was found in the area

U.S. Capitol Police cleared two unattended packages left at the Capitol Visitor Center Tuesday morning, a day after police said officers shot and wounded a man who pulled a gun at a security checkpoint as he entered the underground center.

The visitor center had been set to return to normal operations Tuesday, and a line of tourists was waiting outside the center when it reopened at 8:15 a.m. But they were quickly cleared from the area after the first unattended item was found.

The north screening facility of the visitor center was closed during the investigation, but later reopened. The south screening facility remained open throughout the incident.

The U.S. Capitol Building was not affected. 

Capitol Police cleared the first unattended bag, found on the west side of 1st Street near E. Capitol Street, before 9:30 a.m. The bag was returned to its owner.

The second unattended package was cleared less than 15 minutes later. It was found on the North Side Plaza of the Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress, across the street from the Capitol. 

The reopening of the visitor center comes a day after police say Larry R. Dawson, 66, of Antioch, Tennessee, went through a metal detector at the visitor center, setting off an alarm Monday afternoon. Dawson pulled out a gun and pointed it at an officer, Capitol Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa said.

The officer fired at Dawson, critically injuring him. Dawson was taken to a local hospital and underwent surgery. Late Monday, police said he was in stable but critical condition.

Dawson was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and assault on a police officer while armed. U.S. Capitol Police said Dawson's vehicle was located near the Capitol and was secured at a separate location.

A bystander also was slightly hurt. The incident occurred at the tourists' entry point to a building that had heightened security even before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. There have been periodic incidents of this nature ever since.

Verderosa held a brief news conference Monday at which he ruled out terrorism based on preliminary evidence.

"We believe that this is the act of a single person who has frequented the Capitol grounds before, and there is no reason to believe this is anything more than a criminal act," Verderosa said at a news conference.

The man went through a metal detector at the visitor center, an alarm went off and he pulled out the gun, two sources told News4's Shomari Stone.


Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia local news, events and information

Texas congressman carjacked in Navy Yard

Three shot, including teen, in Southwest DC: Police

NBC News' Pete Williams reported early Monday evening that the weapon was a pellet gun. Dawson was known to U.S. Capitol Police and was a frequent visitor, Williams reported.

Dawson is facing charges for allegedly standing up and shouting Bible verses in October 2015 in the House Chamber Gallery. According to court documents from the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, Dawson identified himself as a "Prophet of God" to the people in the gallery.

According to the documents, Dawson was removed from gallery and, while being removed from the building, pushed a police officer and began to run. He was caught and charged with assault on a police officer.

A stay-away order was issued to Dawson, including a map of the area he was supposed to avoid, which included the U.S. Capitol building and grounds, including all congressional buildings.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us