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US Capitol locked down as gunmen shoot at police

Published 13/07/2016

Police gather in front of a car with its doors open near the US Capitol in Washington (AP)
Police gather in front of a car with its doors open near the US Capitol in Washington (AP)

Police have arrested three men after suspects shot at officers with a machine gun, sparking an alert which caused t he US Capitol and its buildings to be locked down.

Officers stopped the suspects' car about two blocks from the Capitol in Washington, police chief Cathy Lanier said.

Police were alerted to a man with a gun near Fort McNair in south-west Washington, about a mile and a half south of the Capitol, shortly after 4pm on Tuesday.

Ms Lanier said officers followed the car into a tunnel that goes under the National Mall near the Capitol.

As the car was entering the tunnel, someone fired at the officers with what Ms Lanier called "a small machine gun". No officers fired their weapons, she said.

"They were in the middle of a crowded tunnel and that was not an option at that point," said Ms Lanier. The gun was dropped in the tunnel and recovered by police.

Police also said found a large amount of ammunition.

Capitol Police later said: "Two of the suspects were arrested and taken into custody on the scene. One of the three suspects fled the scene, causing the lockdown until the suspect could be apprehended. Once the suspect was located and taken into custody, the lockdown was lifted."

The Capitol lockdown began at 4.20pm and the all-clear was given over a loudspeaker at 4.45pm. Police had sent an email to congressional staff advising them to lock doors and stay away from external doors and windows.

Both the House of Representatives and Senate were in session, with house members voting. In the Senate, politicians were delivering speeches from the floor.

Last Friday, the Capitol was briefly locked down after reports that a woman with a gun was attempting to enter the building. It turned out to be a false alarm.

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From Belfast Telegraph