WASHINGTON, D.C. (KDKA) – Pennsylvania’s senior congressman, U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle, got word of the latest Capitol Hill attack before anyone else.
Doyle tells KDKA political editor Jon Delano that one of his staffers was actually at the Capitol when alarms went off, signaling a problem.READ MORE: 'Dasher's Light Show' Tickets Now On Sale For This Christmas Season
Very few people were on Capitol Hill Good Friday afternoon when an assailant rammed a steel and cement barrier that keeps vehicles from entering the Capitol grounds.
Doyle, who has served at the Capitol for 25 years, says he got a call from a staffer that something was wrong.
“He happened to be up there to get some paperwork he wanted to get when he heard an alarm go off that there was an active shooter and to take cover,” Doyle told KDKA’s Jon Delano.
“At first I thought it was an active shooter in the Capitol, and I was thinking, ‘how’s it possible that someone’s got in the Capitol again?’ We learned later on that this was someone in a car who tried to breach the entrance to the Capitol on the Senate side.”
While the vehicle was stopped by barriers, the perpetrator, now identified as 25-year old Noah Green, rammed into one of the Capitol Hill police officers.
“We’ve lost another Capitol Police officer. It’s almost hard to believe given the events of just a couple months ago, January 6th, that once again one of our Capitol Police officers has given his life protecting the Capitol,” said Doyle.
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Congressman Conor Lamb expressed sorrow and outrage after the attack.
“First, just outrage that we have another attack on our national Capitol and secondly, thinking about the Capitol Police,” said Lamb.
Lamb, who was in the Capitol during the Jan. 6 Riot, says those officers put their lives on the line every day.
“You never know when something like this could happen, and it’s just incredibly heroic, the job that they do,” he said.
Lamb said neither the U.S. Congress nor the Capitol Police will be intimidated.READ MORE: Take Action Mon Valley Demands Answers After 2 Incidents Involving Police Officers In Homestead
“These crazy people out here who think they can accomplish something by attacking the Capitol will be persuaded with each passing day that we conduct ourselves with a little more dignity and run the government the way we’re supposed to, that this is not a worthwhile venture. The attacker was killed today and that show of force unfortunately is important for people to see,” said Lamb.
Doyle remembers the days when the ‘Peoples’ House’ — the Capitol — was open to all with no barriers, minimal metal detectors, and grounds that were wide open to everyone.
Those days seem to be gone forever.
After the Jan. 6 insurrection, the Capitol became a fortress with barbed wire and metal barriers even blocking the two major streets that run on both sides of the Capitol.
Those streets had just been reopened.
“You know the outer perimeter barriers had just been taken down about two weeks ago, much to our joy. I know many of us, I know I personally, couldn’t wait to see those barriers come down. So before you couldn’t travel up Constitution or Independence avenues,” said Doyle.
But that allowed the suspect to drive his car to the outer edge of the Capitol grounds where he was stopped by Capitol Police.
“There’s usually police officers outside the shed to check credentials. They usually stand to the side. I don’t know exactly where they were standing. I don’t know if this guy swerved his car but somehow he hit both of those officers before ramming into the barrier,” said Doyle.
While the barrier worked to keep the assailant out of the Capitol grounds, obviously something is wrong when an officer loses his life.
Delano: “What ought to be done to secure the Capitol?”
Doyle: “Well, Jon, that’s the age-old question. How much security do you want versus access, right?”
“I just don’t think the Capitol should be a place of fences and barbed wire. I know that many of us are willing to accept the risk that comes with not making it an impenetrable fortress,” adds Doyle.
Unlike the Jan. 6 riots when security measures seemed insufficient, Lamb said that was not the case Friday. Police were prepared and prevented the suspect from beaching the building. The deadly attack came at a barricaded checkpoint 100 yards away.
“If these barricades weren’t up, this attack would have been within a pitching wedge of the Senate Chamber,” said Lamb.MORE NEWS: Pittsburgh Department Of Public Works Looking For Artist To Help Design New Playground
But when an officer loses his life, it’s fair to ask — how can we best keep the Capitol open and protect human life, too?