Washington woke on Saturday shaken by another deadly attack at the US Capitol, an incident which left a police officer and a suspect dead and stirred memories of 6 January, when supporters of Donald Trump stormed the building in an attempt to overturn the election.
The incident on Friday was on a much smaller scale but it still spread confusion and fear. Early in the afternoon, a man rammed his vehicle into two Capitol police officers standing in front of a barricade. Exiting the vehicle, the suspect then lunged at officers with a knife. He was shot dead.
Yogananda Pittman, acting chief of Capitol police, told reporters two officers were taken to hospital after the attack. One, William “Billy” Evans, an 18-year department veteran and the father of two young children, died from his injuries.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Evans a “martyr for democracy”.
“America’s heart has been broken by the tragic and heroic death of one of our Capitol police heroes,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Once again, these heroes risked their lives to protect our Capitol and our country, with the same extraordinary selflessness and spirit of service seen on 6 January.
“On behalf of the entire House, we are profoundly grateful.”
A neighbour of Evans, Bob Epskamp,
told the Washington Post he was a “loving and caring father”. After the insurrection at the Capitol, he said, he told Evans he “was glad he was fortunate enough not to be on duty that day”.
Police did not immediately name the suspect and the motive remained unclear. Multiple news outlets, however, named the attacker as Noah Green, who was 25 and from Indiana.
Friends and family members told news outlets they had been concerned about Green’s mental health in recent years, especially after he posted disturbing comments to social media.
Green’s Facebook profile was public until it was suspended on Friday. Two weeks before the attack at the Capitol, he reportedly wrote: “These past few years have been tough, and these past few months have been tougher.
“I have been tried with some of the biggest, unimaginable tests in my life. I am currently unemployed after I left my job partly due to affiliations, but ultimately, in search of a spiritual journey.”
Green reportedly grew up in Virginia and played football in college. Andre Toran, a former team-mate, told
USA Today he was a “really quiet guy” who would occasionally crack jokes with the team but mostly just smiled when listening to conversations.
“I know people say this all the time, but the guy who I played with is not the same person who did this,” Toran said.
US Capitol: officer dead after suspect rams car against security barrier – video report
According to other friends and family members, Green became paranoid after alleging he had been drugged with Xanax by former room-mates. The experience, he claimed, made him addicted to the drug and led to withdrawal symptoms.
Toran showed USA Today a Facebook post he said Green wrote during the pandemic, in which Green said that withdrawal symptoms included seizures, a lack of appetite, paranoia, depression and suicidal ideation.
Green’s brother told the
Washington Post Green moved around after college, going from Virginia to Indianapolis and even to Botswana. Green moved in with his brother two weeks before he attacked the Capitol, his brother said, and in the hours before the attack sent a text message that read: “I’m sorry but I’m just going to go and live and be homeless. Thank you for everything that you’ve done. I looked up to you when I was a kid. You inspired me a lot.”
On his Facebook page, Green claimed to be a follower of Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, and said his faith in Farrakhan and the extremist group was “one of the only things that has been able to carry me through these times”.
The Nation of Islam is
designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, for its “deeply racist, antisemitic and anti-gay rhetoric of its leader”.
On Friday, acting chief of the Metropolitan police Robert Contee said the attack did not appear to be terrorism-related, though police were still investigating.
Only three months have passed since the Capitol breach on 6 January by hundreds of supporters of Donald Trump. Then, lawmakers, staff members and journalists were forced to hide as rioters roamed the building, allegedly looking for politicians to kidnap and even kill, until police were able to clear the building.
Five people, including a US Capitol police officer who confronted rioters, were killed. At least 350 people have been
charged in relation to the attack.
Security around the Capitol was greatly increased. A tall fence now surrounds the building, and thousands of members of the national guard have been stationed in the area. The national guard plans to stay at the Capitol until May at the request of US Capitol police, whose small force struggled to handle the January riot.
While Friday’s attack was much smaller in scale, it renewed concerns over the Capitol being a target for violence.
Congressman Ro Khanna, a Democrat from California, was at the Capitol on Friday despite most representatives and senators being away for Easter.
told MSNBC: “The question we have to ask is what is happening in our country, where we have people coming in, trying to use violence and knives and arms [at] the heart of American democracy.”