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Thursday, February 2, 2023

U.S. Capitol Breached by Mob, Pipe Bombs Discovered, D.C. Under Curfew

A mob breached the U.S. Capitol today, leaving four people dead and Washington, D.C., under curfew as the National Guard and local agencies deployed to help Capitol Police regain control of the House and Senate.

Two pipe bombs — outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters and outside the Republican National Committee headquarters — were also discovered and detonated by police, and a cooler with incendiary devices was found on the Capitol grounds.

The chaos unfolded as supporters of President Trump, who had just marched to the Capitol from a rally and Trump speech on the National Mall, overwhelmed Capitol Police who were trying to protect the perimeter with the aid of portable metal barriers. A mob swarmed the steps of the east side of the building as inside lawmakers in both chambers were debating an objection to the electoral college votes certified and submitted by Arizona.

Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over the Senate, was quickly hustled out of the upper chamber and lawmakers and staff were soon evacuated as the mob broke into the Capitol. In the stunning security breach, members of the mob occupied the dais where Pence had just sat, went through hastily evacuated offices, broke glass with flagpoles to climb through windows, and tried to force their way into the House chamber as Capitol Police barricaded the door and drew their guns on the rioters.

One woman with the mob was shot by Capitol Police during the breach and died at the hospital. Three other suffered apparent medical emergencies, D.C. police said.

Virginia and Maryland sent mutual aid to help the Capitol Police, and the Pentagon eventually announced that the D.C. National Guard would be deployed to support law enforcement. A 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew was put in place in D.C. and in Arlington and Alexandria, Va. By late in the evening, D.C. police reported 52 arrests from curfew violations and the protests.

“The violence at our Nation’s Capitol Building is an intolerable attack on a fundamental institution of our democracy,” Acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen said in a statement tonight. “From the outset, the Department of Justice has been working in close coordination with the Capitol Police and federal partners from the Interior Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Guard, as well as the Metropolitan Police and other local authorities. Earlier this afternoon, the Department of Justice sent hundreds of federal law enforcement officers and agents from the FBI, ATF, and the U.S. Marshals Service to assist the Capitol Police in addressing this unacceptable situation, and we intend to enforce the laws of our land.”

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said DHS was working with Capitol Police to restore order. “Violence in any form is unacceptable. NO one has the right to attack ANY federal institution regardless of motivation,” Wolf tweeted. “Violent opportunists at the US Capitol grounds must be held accountable. We have a proud history of resolving our differences through peaceful means.”

Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a specialty in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, antisemitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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