The Senate office buildings on Capitol Hill were locked down and staff were ordered to shelter in place Wednesday afternoon for about an hour and a half in response to what Capitol Police called “an internal security threat.”
No suspicious activity was ultimately identified.
In an initial email sent at 2:46 p.m. EST to Capitol Hill staff and credentialed reporters, Capitol Police advised staffers to move into the nearest office, stay away from external doors and windows, remain quiet, and silence electronics.
Videos posted to Twitter from the Hill showed people evacuating the cluster of three Senate office buildings located on the north side of the Capitol complex. The Senate office buildings house offices for individual senators and committee meeting rooms.
Capital Police said at the time that they were responding to a report of an active shooter but cautioned that “we do not have any confirmed reports of gunshots.”
There were some early indications that it was a false alarm, as reported by Politico Hill reporter Nicholas Wu:
Despite the indications that the incident was a false alarm, Capitol Police continued to urge staffers to shelter in place.
About an hour after the first shelter in place email, House Sergeant at Arms put out an update, saying, “access and operations to the U.S. Capitol Building, CVC, and House Office Buildings will continue as normal,” while the Capitol Police continued to respond to a security incident in the area of the Russell Senate Office Building. The House Sergeant at Arms also said there are “no confirmed reports of gunshots” as of 3:52 p.m. EST Wednesday.
At 4:19 p.m. EST, the House Sergeant at Arms said Capitol Police conducted sweeps of all Senate Office Buildings and surrounding areas and found “no suspicious activity nor persons of interest.”