Shots fired in House of Reps. garage

The AP is reporting:

Police sealed off part of the Capitol complex on Friday amid reports that shots were fired in the garage of a House office building.

Capitol police were investigating “the sound of gunfire in the garage level of the Rayburn House Office Building,” said an announcement on the internal Capitol voice alarm system.

Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., conducting a House Intelligence Committee hearing, interrupted a witness to request those attending the meeting to remain in the room and said the doors must be closed.

“It’s a little unsettling to get a Blackberry message put in front of you that says there’s gunfire in the building,” he said.

Jeff Connor, a spokesman for Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., said Capitol Hill police notified the office that gunfire was heard in the Rayburn building garage.

“They specifically said there was the sound of gunfire on one of the garage levels of the Rayburn House office building and asked staff to remain in their offices,” Connor said.

While the House was adjourned for the Memorial Day weekend, at least one committee was meeting.

At the same time, Capitol police went room to room in at least parts of the Capitol advising staff to stay in their offices, according one House aide whose office was advised.

“They want us to stay in our offices and I’m perfectly happy to do that but I don’t feel endangered,” said Gene Smith, chief of staff to Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., who has an office in Rayburn.

“They said they heard gunfire in the Rayburn garage but this is a huge building, I’m guessing it’s a car backfiring or balloons popping.”

This news story from Reuters has a quote from the Senate Sergeant at Arms saying that there were reports of a smoke smell in the lobby of the Rayburn building.

That Blackberry message that Rep. Hoekstra was talking about (via Drudge):

Blackberry message: This is a message from the U.S. Capitol Police
1. If you are in the Rayburn HOB then Shelter in Place. Quickly move into the nearest interior office space or interior hallway and away from windows. The Capitol Police are investigating reports of gunfire in the Rayburn HOB.
2. If nearby, grab Go-Kits and personal belongings.
3. Close doors behind you, but do not lock.
4. Remain calm.
5. Await further instructions. Do not leave the building.

Let’s hope no one was hurt and that this is a false alarm.

Check the comments section here for updates on this story.

PM Update 9:25 ET: Thanks to Bang, forest, and everyone else who provided updates on this story. I was neck deep in paperwork today and didn’t have much time to blog. Now, I’m watching the Hurricanes-Sabres game.

For the full story on the ‘gun shot’ false alarm, see the Washington Post write up:

The Rayburn House Office Building was locked down for more than four hours today after a New Jersey congressman reported hearing the sound of gunfire in the building’s garage.

The noise apparently came from construction work being done in the building, Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said.

“There were some workers . . . in the area of the Rayburn garage, in the elevator area, and in doing their routine duties they made some sort of a noise that sounded like shots fired,” Schneider said.

She said that while the police investigation is continuing, the construction work is a “plausible explanation” for the noise that also briefly closed the Capitol building and locked down D.C. public schools.

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