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Deadly Breach Could Delay Decisions About US Capitol Fencing


FILE - A security fence topped with concertina wire surrounds the grounds of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 19, 2021.

The fatal breach at the U.S. Capitol on Friday could result in a delay in reopening the grounds around the building, according to The Associated Press.

The Capitol has been surrounded by security fencing since the January 6 riot by supporters of then-President Donald Trump. The pro-Trump rioters were attempting to prevent the counting of electoral college votes for Joe Biden, who won the November presidential election.

The outer ring of fencing was recently taken down, while an inner ring of fencing remains around the Capitol.

An AP story published Saturday quoted lawmakers expressing mixed opinions on whether the grounds should open sooner or later.

Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman told lawmakers in February that "the Capitol's security infrastructure must change."

A task force that conducted a security review of the Capitol grounds after the riot recommended eventually replacing barriers with mobile and retractable fencing.

Driver rams into barricade

On Friday, a U.S. Capitol Police officer was killed and another injured when a driver slammed a car into a barricade outside the Capitol.

The Capitol Police said the suspect exited the car with a knife in his hand and lunged at the officers. Capitol Police then fired at him. The suspect was identified as Noah Green, 25. Police are looking into his background for clues to a motive.

Members of Green's family issued a statement Saturday, saying they "feel great sympathy for the officer whose life was taken and the other injured during these events," according to The Washington Post. The statement added that Green experienced depression and potential mental illness.

The Post spoke with Green's brother Brendan, who said he had been concerned about his brother's mental health for some time. The siblings shared an apartment in Virginia. Brendan said Noah sent him a text Thursday after leaving their residence that said, "I'm sorry but I'm just going to go and live and be homeless."

Newsweek was able to capture some of the suspect's Facebook postings before they were taken down by the social media giant. One posting revealed that Green was an admirer of Minister Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam (NOI). "The Minister is here to save me and the rest of humanity, even if it means facing death," the posting read.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a legal advocacy group focusing on civil rights and public interest litigation, has classified NOI as a hate group.

Veteran officer

Police identified the officer who died in the attack as William "Billy" Evans. He was a member of the force's first responders unit and an 18-year veteran of the Capitol Police.

"Jill and I were heartbroken to learn of the violent attack at a security checkpoint on the U.S. Capitol grounds, which killed Officer William Evans of the U.S. Capitol Police, and left a fellow officer fighting for his life," Biden said in a statement Friday afternoon.

Biden, who was briefed on the attack, is spending the Easter weekend at Camp David, a presidential retreat in Maryland. He ordered flags at the White House to be flown at half-staff.

Friday's incident happened at a vehicle checkpoint on Constitution Avenue, on the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol Complex.

The attack "does not appear to be terrorism-related, but obviously we will continue to investigate," Robert Contee, the acting chief of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department, told reporters Friday.

The Washington police, with assistance from the FBI's Washington Field Office, took over the investigation into Friday's attack.

"Today, America's heart has been broken by the tragic and heroic death of one of our Capitol Police heroes: Officer William Evans," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. "He is a martyr for our democracy."

In a tweet Friday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said:

About 2,200 U.S. National Guard troops have been providing additional security at the Capitol Complex since the January 6 riot.

VOA congressional correspondent Katherine Gypson and national security correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this report.