Capitol Hill bomb threat stalemate ends as suspect surrenders

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Washington (AFP)

A man who threatened to detonate a bomb on Capitol Hill in Washington surrendered to police on Thursday, ending an hour-long standoff that rocked lawmakers still reeling from the pro-Trump insurgency in January.

The incident sparked evacuations and a massive police response, and sent tremors of anxiety to a city that has spent months on high alert, as political tensions soared in the wake of the deadly Capitol riot American.

The suspect, an apparent right-wing extremist identified by authorities as Floyd Ray Roseberry of North Carolina, was broadcasting live on social media from his truck, attacking President Joe Biden and Democrats, warning of a “revolution” and complaining about the US government and its policy in Afghanistan.

He also claimed that four more sets of explosives were waiting in Washington and that they would detonate, along with his bomb, if police used lethal force against him.

Much of the complex was cordoned off as agents and FBI agents negotiated with the driver, who police said appeared to have a detonator in his hand.

Suddenly, after four hours of drama, it was over.

“He got out of the vehicle and surrendered, and nearby tactical units took him into custody without incident,” US Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger told reporters.

A subsequent search by law enforcement found no bombs in the vehicle parked on the sidewalk next to the Library of Congress, “but material capable of making bombs was recovered from the truck,” said USCP in a press release.

Manger said Roseberry’s motives were unclear, but in his Facebook Live stream he made a series of inconsistent threats and asked to speak to the president.

“I’m trying to reach Joe Biden on the phone. I’m parked here on the sidewalk right next to all these pretty things,” said the bald man with a salt and pepper goatee, wearing a white t-shirt. shirt.

“I’m not hurting anybody Joe. I don’t pull the trigger on this thing. I can’t,” he said. “I’m telling you, these snipers come in, they start shooting that window, this bomb goes off.”

– ‘The revolution’ –

The live stream showed Roseberry in her vehicle holding a clay-topped metal cylinder attached to a box with buttons and wires, but it was ultimately determined not to be a viable explosive device.

First responders, police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation converged on Capitol Hill to investigate an “active bomb threat” near the US Capitol Eric BARADAT AFP

While he did not claim political affiliation, he referred at one point to “the revolution” and said: “I am looking for all my other patriots to come and help me.

He later lashed out at Biden’s party saying, “You all know what you’re doing Democrats? You’re killing America.”

A White House official said Biden had been made aware of the standoff.

When authorities revealed the threat, the main Library of Congress buildings were evacuated, as were the nearby United States Supreme Court and at least one of the House’s three office buildings.

Streets and buildings were reopened and public transport resumed after police gave the green light.

– ‘Threat to every community’ –

The Senate and House of Representatives are currently on vacation, but some lawmakers have remained in Washington and staff are working at the complex.

House Democrat Bill Pascrell fiercely condemned the suspect during the standoff, in comments that echoed the trauma of the insurgency that rocked the Capitol in January.

“A right-wing extremist is now threatening to detonate a bomb on the United States Capitol,” he tweeted. “Right-wing domestic terrorism is a threat to all communities in the United States. “

Tensions remain high more than seven months after the January 6 riot, when supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the United States Capitol, fought with police and searched to block the certification of the presidential election.

Messages of appreciation poured in from lawmakers to police officers assigned to security in the Capitol area on Thursday.

“They’ve been through so much this year, and they still stand up for our democracy,” said Senator Martin Heinrich.


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