Four dead, 52 arrested after Capitol breach; public emergency extended

Pro-Trump rioters breach the security perimeter at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, January 6, 2021. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI

Jan. 7 (UPI) — Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser late Wednesday extend a public emergency for 15 days while blaming President Donald Trump for inciting his supporters to breach the U.S. Capitol building earlier in the day that resulted in the death of a woman and at least 52 arrests.

Bowser announced the emergency order extension during a press conference, stating it will run through to the inauguration of President-elect Job Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to ensure peace and security in the city.

The order had been issued and a 6 p.m. curfew imposed Wednesday afternoon after protesters breached police barricades and stormed the U.S. Capitol building as Congress was inside certifying the Electoral College win by Biden, prompting the procedures to be halted.

The mayor described the siege as “an unprecedented attack” on U.S. democracy incited by Trump.

“He must be held accountable,” she said. “His constant and divisive rhetoric led to the abhorrent actions we saw today and sadly it led to the loss of a life that will forever stain what could have been and what should have been a peaceful transfer of power.”

“Again, he must be held accountable,” she said.

Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee told reporters that the protesters breached the police barricade at 2:46 p.m. and “multiple individuals” forcibly entered the Capitol building in an attempt to gain access to the ongoing Congress session where they were confronted by plain clothes U.S. Capitol police officers.

One officer discharged their weapon, striking a woman who was transported to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead, he said, adding her identity is being withheld and that an investigation into her death has been initiated by the police department’s Internal Affairs Division.

A man and two women in the area of the Capitol grounds also died Wednesday though due to medical emergencies, he said.

Contee said arrests were ongoing but as of 9:30 p.m. at least 52 people had been taken into custody, four for carrying weapons without a license, one for carrying a prohibited weapon and 47 for curfew violations and unlawful entry, including 26 who were apprehended on Capitol grounds.

Police also recovered two pipe bombs, one from the Democratic National Committee headquarters and one from the Republican National Committee headquarters, as well as a cooler in a vehicle on Capitol grounds that contained molotov cocktails, he said.

Bowser said police will be issuing alerts to the public to be on the lookout for those who stormed the building.

“Some of them have to be held accountable for the carnage,”she said.

At least 14 officers were injured during the day, including two who were hospitalized, one with facial injuries from being struck with a projectile and the other who suffered serious injuries when they were pulled into a crowd and assaulted, the police chief said.

Asked if the breach of the Capitol building was the result of police failure, Bowser said there will be time later to assess what happened but right now they are focused on ensuring Congress proceedings, which restarted around 8 p.m., continue and the city is safe.

“We will continue to focus because clearly, we will have more events at the capital and we want to make sure every lesson learned from this one is implemented,” she said.

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