Updated Nov 7, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Senate offices briefly locked down as police arrest armed man

The U.S. Capitol is seen from the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, on Nov. 5, 2023. Photo: Stefani Reynolds / AFP.

Parts of the Capitol complex briefly went on lockdown on Tuesday as law enforcement apprehended a man armed with a gun near the Senate offices.

Why it matters: The incident comes at a moment of heightened security concerns on Capitol Hill due to a spike in local crime and several incidents of violence against lawmakers.

  • Capitol Police seized two handguns and a stolen car on Sunday from two men who crashed their car into a vehicle barrier and fled from officers.

Driving the news: The Capitol Police said Tuesday on X that officers "arrested a man with a gun" at a park that sits between Union Station, the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol and the Senate office buildings.

  • Senate buildings were briefly locked down and roads near the park closed due to the incident, according to security emails obtained by Axios. Congressional staff soon after received an all-clear.
  • Capitol Police said Tuesday afternoon that they do not believe there is an continued threat and that they were searching the suspect's belongings as part of an ongoing investigation.

Zoom in: The Capitol Police, in a statement released later on Tuesday evening, identifies the suspect as Ahmir Lavon Merrell, a 21-year-old resident of Atlanta, Georgia.

  • Police were alerted by a public tip about Merrell walking in Upper Senate Park with a rifle, the statement said.
  • When officers confronted Merrell and instructed him to drop the gun, he refused, at which point he was tased and arrested, the statement said.

What they're saying: "See something, say something' is not just an empty slogan. We are grateful for the individual who alerted our officer to the man with a gun in the park," Capitol Police chief Thomas Manger said.

  • "These cops immediately ran toward the man with the loaded gun. As always — I am proud of our cops."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details, including Capitol Police releasing the name of a suspect and comment from chief Thomas Manger.

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