Capitol security fears return after deadly attack by purported Nation of Islam follower

The attack occurred nearly 3 months after the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol

Published: April 2, 2021 10:34pm

Updated: April 3, 2021 10:46pm

A Capitol Police officer died after a knife-wielding suspect slammed his car into a barrier protecting the U.S. Capitol, reigniting the debate around heightened security at the complex after the Jan. 6 riot.

Noah Green, a 25-year-old man from Indiana, was shot dead by police after the midday attack Friday at an entry point near the Senate side of the Capitol, rattling nerves anew and sending investigators on a search for a motive.

Multiple reports said Green was a Nation of Islam follower who praised Louis Farrakhan and lost his job recently. He is not known to be affiliated with a terrorist group at this time, authorities said.  

"The suspect did start lunging toward US Capitol Police officers, at which time US Capitol Police officers fired upon the suspect," said Yogananda Pittman, acting chief of the US Capitol Police, at a news conference on Friday. "At such time the suspect exited the vehicle with a knife in hand. Our officers then engaged that suspect. He did not respond to verbal commands."

Green’s family and friends told the Washington Post that the young man was a successful college football player who suddenly went into decline, suffering from bouts of paranoia and possible drug use.

Brendan Green, a brother, said his sibling’s “mind didn’t seem right” during a recent visit to Indianapolis.

Journalist Glenn Greenwald said it's too early to determine the motive of the attacker. 

"On what basis did the police pronounce that the Capitol attack 'does not appear to be terrorism-related'? How was it remotely possible to determine the motive of the attacker this early (which, by the way, is what determines whether an act of violence is or is not "terrorism")?" he wrote.

The Capitol Police officer killed during the incident was William "Billy" Evans, who served on the force for 18 years.

“It is with profound sadness that I share the news of the passing of Officer William 'Billy' Evans this afternoon from injuries he sustained following an attack at the North Barricade by a lone assailant. Officer Evans had been a member of the United States Capitol Police for 18 years," said Pittman in a statement. "He began his USCP service on March 7, 2003, and was a member of the Capitol Division’s First Responder’s Unit. Please keep Officer Evans and his family in your thoughts and prayers.” 

Following the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, many National Guard troops were stationed on the complex and a tall fencewas erected around the building. Throughout February and March, there were bipartisan calls to draw down the security presence at the Capitol. The latest incident could reignite the security debate on the Capitol complex.

CNN National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto tweeted that "lawmakers who have downplayed or politicized the threat to the US Capitol need to be asked and answer now for their reaction to this latest deadly attack." 

FBI Director Christopher Wray said the FBI is assisting in the investigation of the attack.

"I am deeply saddened by today’s tragic events at the U.S. Capitol. On behalf of the FBI, I would like to express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the brave officers who were attacked today while doing their jobs, protecting the Capitol and those who work there," he said in a statement. "The FBI stands ready to support our law enforcement partners in the investigation of this tragedy."

President Biden issued a statement reacting to the attack.

"Jill and I were heartbroken to learn of the violent attack at a security checkpoint on the U.S. Capitol grounds, which killed Officer William Evans of the U.S. Capitol Police, and left a fellow officer fighting for his life.  We send our heartfelt condolences to Officer Evans’ family, and everyone grieving his loss.  We know what a difficult time this has been for the Capitol, everyone who works there, and those who protect it," he said. "I have been receiving ongoing briefings from my Homeland Security Advisor, and will be getting further updates as the investigation proceeds."

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