By Liz Sidoti
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON —; Guns drawn, police briefly sealed off the Capitol today and launched a floor-by-floor search of the largest office structure on Capitol Hill after an unidentified caller reported gunfire. Amid chaos and confusion, police said there were no injuries, arrests or confirmation of the gunfire.
“The report is that shots were fired” at 10:30 a.m. EDT in the garage of the Rayburn House Office Building, said Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider. A single telephone call from an unidentified individual triggered the massive police deployment.
“We have not gotten any reports of anybody being captured, anybody being arrested,” she said.
On high alert, police lined the street between the Capitol and the Rayburn building, rifles prominently displayed, and four ambulances, two firetrucks and other emergency vehicles were on standby outside the office structure. Police methodically searched the sprawling building, where congressional staff had locked themselves into their offices as a precaution.
“Every square inch of the Rayburn building is going to be cleared out today” as police make sure everyone in the structure belongs there, Schneider said at a second news conference.
An Associated Press reporter overheard a dispatch on a police radio saying police were looking for someone who was about 6 feet tall. It was not known whether the dispatch was related to the incident at Rayburn.
“Right now we want to err on the side of caution,” Schneider said. “Lives could be at risk. If we have a gunman in the building we certainly want to find him. It’s premature to assume that it may not be a gunman.”
The Senate was in session at the time, but the House was not as most lawmakers had left for the Memorial Day recess.
See tomorrow’s Chattanooga Times Free Press for full coverage.