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Armed Suspect Killed After Ramming Capitol Barricades; Interview With Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA). Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 2, 2021 - 14:00   ET



ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: They are injured. A suspect is in custody. All three have been taken to the hospital, we're told, according to U.S. Capitol Police.

But, again, this is an unfolding story. Security beefing up. Our reporters and producers are on the scene.

Brooke Baldwin takes up our coverage right now -- Brooke.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: All right, I will take it. Erica, thank you so much. Excellent job.

And if you are just joining here us here at CNN, thank you for being with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Let me just bring everyone up to speed as far as what is happening right this very moment on Capitol Hill. So, here's what we know. It's not a lot of information.

A Washington, D.C., fire spokesperson says that they are responding to how they have described as this security incident. This is on Constitution Avenue there, where there are reports that someone rammed his or her vehicle there into two U.S. Capitol Police officer -- officers.

And then, on top of that, we have learned that the driver, whoever this person, was got out of the vehicle with a knife. We have that video now in, which appears to show exactly that.

I can tell you a suspect is in custody. But at least two D.C. officers are injured.

So, we have got a lot of people helping us. Walk us through this breaking news, including Lauren Fox. She's our Capitol Hill reporter. She is inside the building.

So, Lauren, let's just start from scratch. A little while ago, you heard some sort of lockdown warning over the Capitol loudspeaker. What was happening?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I had gone into the Dirksen Office Building, and I was trying to get back to my office in the Capitol, when we initially heard over the loudspeaker this announcement that the Capitol complex was shut down.

You could move between the buildings, but you could not leave or enter the building at that time. And so I walked over to the Russell Office Building, looked out the window, and saw something very similar to the police scene that viewers are seeing right now on their screens.

What we have learned is that an individual rammed into two U.S. Capitol Police officers with a vehicle. Those two officers were injured as that happened. Then that individual, one congressional source told me, got out brandishing a knife, this source basing that on information they are receiving from the U.S. Capitol Police.

And I think that it is just important to underscore for our viewers at home that, just a couple of weeks ago, this area, the corner of Constitution and Delaware, would have had security perimeter around it, meaning that no cars would have been able to move up and down that main thoroughfare.

Now, it's the main thoroughfare of Washington, D.C., This was a huge disruption after the January 6 insurrection, when the barriers went up. Over the last several weeks, that fencing has come down. The external perimeter at the Capitol had been relaxed. But this has always been a key checkpoint.

This is a place where you have to show your congressional I.D. Vehicles have to be tagged a certain way to make sure that they are safe to enter into that Capitol area where the dome is. Obviously, that is very close to where the House and Senate chambers are. It is a main entrance for the building.

And it's an area where you see lawmakers on a Friday afternoon or Thursday afternoon, when they are voting, their drivers will drive their vehicles in. Members enter and exit the building at that place. So, I think that is really important to set the scene for our viewers at home.

Now, lawmakers are on recess right now. So they aren't around Capitol Hill in the numbers that we normally would see in a normal week, but obviously a significant security breach here on Capitol Hill, and just a few months after that January 6, insurrection, obviously, anxiety still very high up here at the Capitol, as everyone was just starting to come into some kind of grasp of what the current situation might be able to be weeks and months after that insurrection.

BALDWIN: No, it's a bit of PTSD for anyone who worked in and around those buildings.

I was texting with some members. And one congresswoman was reminding me that everyone's back home in their home districts. Just some limited staffers and some members are there. But everyone just like -- just felt sick to their stomachs instantly seeing this news about the lockdown.

Lauren, stay with me.

Congressman Ro Khanna, I'd like to go to you, because you happen to be one of those lone members who are actually on the Hill. You're in your car. Tell me where exactly you are and then how you heard about all of this.

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Well, Brooke, I had just stepped out of my Cannon office, and I was going to get Chinese food.

And when I came back, I had a frantic calls from someone on my staff saying, get away, get away. There's an incident. And, honestly, it did bring back memories of January 6.

BALDWIN: Of course.

KHANNA: And I'm so very grateful to the Capitol Police for what they have done.

And then I talked to one of the officers, and they said, go into your car and everything is shut down. And so I have just been in my car.

And there are members. I mean, I'm heading back to my district early next week, but there are a few people still here. And it's really sad, because I had thought, once the barriers were removed, that we were moving back to some sense of normalcy.


But this just shows the level of risk that there still is, and really sad that this is happening at the Capitol.

BALDWIN: What -- just, if you can, elaborate more on that, because we know, just recently, some -- a lot of these barriers went down. And this Capitol, your office, has apparently a massive target on its back.

And what does that feel like as a member of Congress?

KHANNA: Well, for a few weeks, coming to Congress literally was like going into a war zone. You had barbed-wire fence all over. You had troops all over.

And used to tell folks, if I have such a difficult time as a member of Congress getting in, what hope is there for the public to get in? And I really felt that I hoped that was temporary and that we could start getting back to normalcy.

What often has happened is, when there is a recess because members are not here in the same numbers, I think there's less security, less groups. Different members go back to their districts at different times. And, unfortunately, we -- there was a breach. And there is a sense that now going -- just simply going to work is something that has become dangerous.

And I can't imagine saying that, that going to the United States Capitol to represent your constituents is actually a dangerous thing in the United States of America. It's just deeply sad.

BALDWIN: Yes, it is. Congressman, I know you're not going anywhere. You are stuck in your

car until the situation changes. So we will come back to you in just a bit. I appreciate you jumping on TV with me.

Commissioner Charles Ramsey, former D.C. Metropolitan Police chief, you are the perfect person to have in that seat as this has all been unfolding.

We're looking at the picture. This is the car, this blue car, that rammed into the barricade and apparently rammed into these officers, these Capitol officers. Just explain to us what's happening right now. Obviously, it's cordoned off, crime scene tape. What's happening?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, you have got a lot of things going on simultaneously right now, because you have got Metropolitan Police that have responded in to assist the Capitol Police.

I spoke with the chief of the Cap -- of the Metropolitan Police. So I know that they're there. You have got FBI that's responded as well. So, right now, they're coordinating their efforts in terms of who's doing what.

They're also trying to find out more information about the driver. Since this happened, I have been trying to get a glimpse of the license tag on that car. But with the trunk up, I can't see it.

BALDWIN: Hard to tell.

RAMSEY: As you know, it's not unusual for foreign tags, for people from all over the country to be in Washington, D.C. So there's no telling.

But, right now, they're trying to find out, who is that person? What's their background? They have searched the vehicle. Don't know if they got any weapons or not. And, remember, just a couple of weeks ago, they found a guy outside the vice president's residence with firearms and so forth.

So, the threat level in Washington since January 6 is pretty high right now.

BALDWIN: We know that the suspect is in custody. What are they asking him or her?

RAMSEY: Well, they are trying to find out what the intent was. Why were they there? What were they trying to do? It's unlikely this was an accident, someone who just lost control of the car and slammed into the barrier. That has happened before at the Capitol.

But they're trying to find out, if the person is willing to talk, exactly who they are, what their intent was. Now, that person may not be talking to them either. So, they're doing everything they possibly can. If they have a name, I'm sure they're going through social media. They're trying to find out where that person lives. If it's out of state, I'm sure, as far as the FBI goes, they have

notified that field office to try to get a warrant perhaps and go into that apartment or house or what have you. So, all those things are happening right now. But this is in the very early stages. And so, right now, we don't know what took place.

More information will certainly be coming out as time goes on. But I remember, in 1998, when I was the chief there, we had the two officers killed on Capitol grounds. And I certainly responded there. But we had a lot of people there. We coordinated very quickly.

In fact, the Metropolitan Police was actually in charge of the investigation. Unless there's a nexus to terrorism, the FBI will play more of a support role than the primary role. But all that stuff will be determined right there at the scene. They will figure out who's responsible for doing what.

BALDWIN: As I'm sitting here and I'm listening to you, I'm looking at this video on loop. I don't know if this is National Guard, but members of law enforcement with their shields walking through these hallowed halls of Capitol Hill.


And this is chilling. This is triggering for a lot of people whose -- who come to work here, who serve the people. This is the people's house. This is the people's government. And here we are again.

Josh Campbell, former FBI, what do you make of these images, number one? And, just number two, what is the role of the FBI today?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, first, my heart goes out to both, obviously, the officers that were there, the victims that were apparently struck by this vehicle.

But, also, I have a lot of friends on Capitol Hill that I know that continue to suffer from what took place on January 6, as we were just talking about. Your own place of business, where you go to work every single day, is a giant target. It remains so.

And so I know that they are certainly on edge watching this. I will say, from an analytical standpoint, every time we see an emergent situation, the first thing I try to do is look at the posture of law enforcement in and around the incident.

And from some of these images that we have been seeing just from moments ago, you don't see law enforcement officers rushing in. You don't see an influx of people. So, that tells us that the emergent phase of this is likely over. We don't know -- they haven't given an all-clear as far as any threats. But, again, that gives us some comfort, knowing that you don't see a continued infusion of emergency first responders.

The next thing, we just have to assess what it was we're dealing with here. If you have an office -- a vehicle that's traveling towards a building at a high rate of speed, that is a deadly weapon. You couple that with what we're now hearing from authorities, that the suspect then stepped out with a knife, another deadly weapon.

And so we're now past the phase of maybe this being an accident, because what we have seen thus far does not fit the mold of an accident. So, this is obviously something that law enforcement officers will be looking at initially as a potential criminal act. And that's why we have seen this infusion of resources.

We know federal, state, local law enforcement have been arriving there on the scene. I got a statement just from the FBI a short time ago saying that they're sending in resources. And so, as of this point, since it's on their Capitol grounds, U.S. Capitol Police would be running point, but you're going to see a host of resources trying to help identify who this person was, obviously to try to get to that motive as well.

And then, in these types of incidents, there's almost always not a second suspect. Often, sometimes, there is a lot of times, but they're not going to rule anything out until they feel comfortable enough in their investigation that this lone actor did not have assistance. But that will all be part of this robust investigation.

And this is going to take some time, they're going to hold that crime scene there for a period of time, while they process. We saw them putting up police tape in and around that vehicle, again, a lengthy investigation ahead of them as they try to get to the bottom of exactly what transpired.

The last thing I will say is that we know that this building has been the -- a target of attack. It just happened in January, where, obviously, the insurrection there, which has now caused this major spotlight to come on the U.S. Capitol Police, on other authorities about sharing intelligence and sharing information.

We know one thing that's probably happening behind the scenes right now are, these law enforcement agencies are probably looking through their own holdings trying to determine, was there any type of potential threat, maybe something that they missed? That is textbook. It happens in every single case.

Unfortunately, in some instances, you do see that happen. But that would be happening behind the scenes right now. And then the last thing is that we know, from January the -- January 5 and 6, this pipe bomber that we have been reporting on still has not been caught.

So, if people think that Washington, D.C., just because it's the seat of power, you have security cameras everywhere, that's not a panacea. So, there's a lot going into this to try to identify who this person is. But, thankfully, there will be a host of resources from different agencies trying to bring everything that they can to bear...


CAMPBELL: ... to try to get to the bottom of it.

BALDWIN: Josh Campbell, stand by.

Dana Bash, I'm bringing you in.

And I was right. Those were members of National Guard.

And if there is anyone who knows those hallowed halls of Congress in the Capitol even better than some the younger members is you. And to see these pictures, I mean, never in a million years did we imagine that January 6 would have happened, right, to have seen National Guard and law enforcement having to respond in the way that they did.

And to see it now in a slightly smaller scale three months later, what are your thoughts?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, you're talking about it being triggering. There's no question about it.

And just for your average American to see that alert on your phone to turn on CNN and see that there's an incident at the Capitol, it's triggering, never mind for people who are in the building.

The good news -- in all of the buildings on the campus. The good news here, there are a couple of slivers of hope and silver linings. Number one, unlike January 6, which the differences are very vast, but one big one is Congress isn't in session. Today is Good Friday. Congress is on a two -- the House and Senate are on two-week recess.

And so, whatever happened, whatever the motivation, it -- if they were trying to stop work at the U.S. Capitol, then they were misguided, because there isn't anything going on, on the House or the Senate floor right now.


The second thing is, just looking at the pictures you see there on your screen, as Lauren and our other reporters on the scene have been describing, that barrier that kind of comes up from the ground, that is standard. That was there before what happened on January 6.

And despite the fact that it looks like there have been Capitol officers injured, the barrier for the car appears to have worked. So, that is another silver lining. That is a very different story, of course, from the notion of this individual apparently having at least a knife and maybe more than that.

So, those are the two things that I'm looking at right there. But it also bears repeating that there has been a very active -- and you talked about this with Congressman Khanna -- very -- had been a very active debate about how long to keep those giant fences up that did make the Capitol look and feel like the Green Zone in Baghdad felt when I was there, and I'm sure you were as well.

And they took it down. And had they not, that car would not have been anywhere near there. But that's -- that's just the reality. On the flip side, again, that barrier did work.

But, look, it's just another reminder that these Capitol Police officers and members of all law enforcement across Washington and across the country, they are -- they're -- they put themselves at risk. And they are vulnerable, no matter how much protection and no matter what you see from National Guard troops, who do still remain, as we saw in those remarkable pictures of them walking through the hallways, it looked like of, the Dirksen Office Building, one of the three office buildings on the Senate side of the Capitol where this is occurring.

BALDWIN: And, apparently, our own friend and colleague Ariane de Vogue is the one who shot this video.

And, Ariane, I will come to you in just a second.

Dana, thank you so much. Well, I'm going to loop back with you in a moment as well.

Let's go to our senior justice correspondent, our chief justice correspondent, Evan Perez, hopefully with a little bit more information these two injured officers.

Do you know anything, Evan?


I mean, what we were told is that this man, this person in this vehicle rammed that barrier that you see right there and exited and apparently brandished a knife. Now, the question -- we know that at least two of the officers were injured. Where those injuries are, we're still trying to verify.

But they were serious enough that all three were taken to the hospital. It appears that the officers responded with gun -- by shooting at the suspect. Again, there appear to be three people now injured, including the suspect, who all three of them were taken to the hospital to -- it's not it's not clear exactly what all ensued at that point, whether he said anything, this person said anything.

But it's clear that, right now, if you look at the scene, the officers there are not concerned about a bomb or anything like that. Obviously, that's one of the first things that comes to mind, is, is there something in the vehicle that's of danger?

And I'm told that law enforcement has gone through it. They are satisfied that there is no additional threat from the vehicle itself. And so, right now, now that they're trying to figure out who this person is, what their -- what brought them here.

This is something that's been on everyone's mind, Brooke, after what happened on January 6.

BALDWIN: Of course.

PEREZ: After what happened on January 6, law enforcement, frankly, has been concerned that people would be emboldened to try something else.

Obviously, they have hardened some of the barriers. You see at least still -- there is still some of the fencing there. There is still National Guard. I run through that area a lot. And you see National Guards men and women standing right next to the Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police that are also assisting in securing the perimeter there.

And so that scene right there is one of the entry points. No matter what you do to protect that building and that campus, there always has to be an entryway someplace for people to enter. And that will always be a weakness, a weakness for the building and for that -- for that area.

And that's what this person appeared to be taking advantage of.

BALDWIN: I have got a follow-up question for you, because this is unclear to me so far. And Dana made this great point in her three silver linings.

Number two was this barrier, barricade...

PEREZ: Right.

BALDWIN: ... which we have seen, if you have been in Washington, comes up from the ground. And it seems to have worked...

PEREZ: Right.

BALDWIN: Did the car -- and here's the car right adjacent to the barrier.

But how were the Capitol officers -- because we're reporting that they were hit, right, that the vehicle slammed into these officers. Were -- I'm presuming then that they were adjacent to the barrier and were perhaps getting in the way of the car.

PEREZ: Right.



BALDWIN: Do you know anything more about what was happening?

PEREZ: Right.

And that's not entirely clear...


PEREZ: ... because, at the beginning here, there is always conflicting information.

So, when you drive up on Constitution Avenue there before -- even if you approach on foot, like I do, sometimes while you're just running through there, you first encounter two officers who are standing before you get to the barrier. So, this person would have had to drive -- and I suspect, again, these

officers would have been in the way. In order to get to the barrier, you first have to go past a couple of officers and a couple of National Guard's soldiers who are standing there waiting to process people.

There's a way for you to go in by foot, and also the vehicle can go through. And so you cannot get through before showing that you belong there. People have license plates. They have tags that show what -- that you belong there.

And so for you to be able to even get to that place, you have to be let through. So, again, it's not exactly clear where these officers were injured, but the person that emerged from the vehicle and was brandishing a knife, these officers were injured.

Both officers were injured. And...


PEREZ: And that's where this -- the shooting ensued.

BALDWIN: So, you're pointing out that these officers started shooting.

And, Evan, hang with me.

Lauren Fox, back over to you on the Hill.

So, we know they were -- this suspect was shot at. And you now have an update on the suspect him or herself. What have you learned?

FOX: Well, we are learning, colleagues at CNN and myself, hearing from sources that the suspect has died. So, that, of course, adds a layer here that we did not know before.

And I just want to lay out the scene. I know we have talked about it. But I think it's important, as we get more information to lay it out for our viewers at home. What we know at this point is, this vehicle rammed into a barrier right there on the corner of Constitution and Delaware as they were headed to the Capitol dome.

That's what you see behind that barrier in a normal day. But -- and I want to lay out here that, after that happened, that this individual, sources tell us, got out brandishing a knife. An officer shot this individual. And now we do know that that individual has died -- Brianna.

BALDWIN: It's Brooke. It's Brooke.

I know you have got a lot going on.

FOX: Brooke. I'm so sorry.

BALDWIN: You're good. You're good. You're good. A lot of moving parts. Thank you for reporting that out.

So, confirmation that the suspect is dead, according to sources and to CNN.

Chief Ramsey, back over to you.

How do we know definitively that this person was acting alone? How will police determine that and how quickly?

RAMSEY: Well, I mean, he's dead. So, obviously, that ends the whole speculation about being able to interview him.

BALDWIN: Can't ask him.

RAMSEY: But -- yes.

But they will start backgrounding and find out more about him. If they don't -- if he didn't have any I.D. on him, they obviously have probably already fingerprinted him, they're running his prints, find out exactly who he is. And then they will start going backwards to find out, you know, what -- I mean? Does he have a social media page at all? Where did he live? Can they execute a search warrant?

I mean, that's going to be the process now that investigators will be involved in. I'm sure the FBI will play a critical role in that sort of thing, because, no doubt, this will probably go beyond the District of Columbia during the course of the investigation. I'd be surprised if it didn't.

So, that's what they're doing now, is trying to find out exactly what the motive was, what this person was trying to do. And, hopefully, I just have to say, those two officers -- I mean, I feel for the officers on the Capitol Police. They just buried one of their own not that long ago.


RAMSEY: And now you have got two officers injured, hopefully not critically.

BALDWIN: Three. Three, Chief. Three are in the hospital.

RAMSEY: Well, yes, I mean, that's not good.

One, I'm saying, was medevaced. And that's never a good sign if they have to medevac you out of a location.

BALDWIN: I was just listening to my producer in my ear. And I hear you saying medevac, not a good sign.

I'm going to read this tweet for everyone watching. This is from U.S. Capitol Police: "Update: The press staging area will be an Upper Senate Park near the fountain. We're planning on a 2:45 p.m. briefing." OK, so we're going to be briefed. We will obviously take that live in about 20 minutes from now to learn as much as we possibly can in these early -- in these early moments of a situation like this.

Again, if you're just now joining us, you're looking at pictures of this blue car. Listen, we don't know much, but what we do know is that someone rammed this car into this barricade there at Delaware and Constitution right there near the Capitol, police tape surrounding the area now, rammed the car rammed into, it sounds like, three Capitol Police officers, who wound up shooting the suspect.

Suspect jumps out of the car with a knife. And, as we have just confirmed, the suspect is now dead. Three officers, according to Evan Perez, are now in the hospital.


And, of course, this is extraordinarily triggering for anyone, just any American. This is the people's government, and again has been under attack and just three months since that Capitol insurrection.

Jonathan Wackrow, I haven't talked to you yet, former U.S. Secret Service. You're watching all of this unfold and hearing all these bits and pieces come out as we're covering this live.

What are you thinking?

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, listen, I have been in these situations at the White House when we had vehicles ram into -- into the barriers.

Almost the exact same type of barrier structure that Dana had described earlier is at the White House and other locations around Washington, D.C. I think what we're seeing is the Capitol Police at its finest right now. They were -- they had a heightened sense of awareness since January 6. They saw this threat. They had officers that were injured, and they responded immediately.

The vehicle was the primary threat. Once it hit that barricade, the suspect exited and presented the officers with a weapon. And the threat was then neutralized. They did a good job. The good guys won on this one today. The systems work, whether it was the people, the officers that responded to the incident. The physical security barriers that have been put into place proved their value today. They absolutely worked.

And the overall system, the response by all municipal aid entities responding to this location was very well-coordinated. And I think that we're taking a lot of lessons from January 6, and we have rectified the deficiencies.

What we probably will hear later on was that, almost instantaneously, an incident command structure was set up by the Capitol Police and an incident commander was put into place to coordinate the responding entities coming too. That's why you didn't see today what we saw on January 6, which was a lot of confusion. Today seemed like there was a very organized, structured response to the scene. Again, in the immediate moments, you have to render that vehicle safe, make sure that there were no explosives. Once that's done, the level of anxiety starts going down.

Now you start looking at, hey, was this a diversionary tactic? Are there other multiple attackers trying to come into the Capitol. They have to try to quickly go through an investigative process to see if this is a lone actor or part of a coordinated attack.

That's probably still ongoing. So, there's going to be an increased security president around the U.S. Capitol and other key locations. I am -- with a high degree of confidence, I'm sure that the White House and the Naval Observatory and other key locations around Washington, D.C., elevated their security posture in the moments immediately following this incident.

So, again, this is a whole-of-law enforcement approach to addressing this issue. And I think it was done really well today. And the investigation will continue on to answer the question, why did this happen and what was the intent of this individual?

BALDWIN: Jonathan Wackrow, thank you so much, as always, for your expertise.

And before I go to Ariane -- Diana (ph) -- I'm going to talk to my producer live on TV.

So, Diana, just so I'm precise on numbers, because I heard Evan report out three officers in the hospital. You're telling me it's two, correct?

Two injured officers. OK, so, I'm -- so, it's two injured officers.

Ariane de Vogue, you normally cover the Supreme Court for us. It's my understanding you are on the beeper line. You're on the phone. And you are the one who took these photos of this line of National Guard troops. What -- is this Dirksen? Where are you or where were you?


Well, I'm usually across the street working at the Supreme Court. Of course, everything is closed down. And I happened to come to the Dirksen Building. That's an office building right adjacent to the Capitol.

And I was just sitting, because I'm getting an I.D. here. And all of a sudden, on the overhead, I heard this warning that we had to stay in place. And what was really extraordinary is, within moments, a door opened and I'd say about 30 to 40 men and women dressed in camouflage, walking in lines, but very calmly, walked down the sidewalk, up the -- sorry -- down the hallway and then up the stairs.

And then I looked, and I happened to be sitting right by sort of a command center office. And there was a lot of flurry, officers kind of coming in and coming out. And then I looked up again, and probably about five to seven minutes had passed, and then I saw those officers now coming back all together in the camouflage uniforms behind those shields.

And what they were doing is, they were coming out through the Dirksen Building, again, adjacent to the Capitol, and going out, no panic. But it was clear that they have been here, right, ever since that insurrection, and they were moving very calmly, as you saw, through the hallways to go outside .