Police arrested one person Sunday evening after a pressure cooker found inside a vehicle near the U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C., was detonated by a bomb squad. The incident occurred while a crowd had gathered on the Capitol’s west lawn for an annual Memorial Day concert.
About 5 p.m. on Sunday, officers on patrol had noticed a “suspicious” unoccupied vehicle parked on a street on the National Mall, west of the Capitol, reeking of gasoline odor. Lt. Kimberly A. Schneider, a U.S. Capitol spokeswoman said, according to the Associated Press, that the bomb squad "disrupted the items of concern in the vehicle including the pressure cooker," producing a loud bang about 7:45 p.m.
The owner of the vehicle -- Israel Shimeles of Alexandria, Virginia -- was tracked down and arrested, and charged with "operating after revocation" -- for using a vehicle after the driving license has been revoked. He was later processed at the U.S. Capitol Police headquarters, the report said.
Schneider said, according to CBS News, that the area along Third Street and the Capitol building, where the incident happened, was briefly cordoned off, as police officials investigated the vehicle. One person attending the concert reportedly said that officials warned that a loud bang may be heard.
However, the show, which was reportedly attended by singer Gloria Estefan, former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell, and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, continued on time, without any incident.
A report from Fox News, citing sources, said that the pressure cooker may have been part of a propane tank used in a food truck.
"[The owners'] story checked out," a source, said, according to Fox News, adding: "But we wanted to neutralize it."
Pressure cookers were also used in the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, where three people were killed and 260 were injured. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the men convicted of carrying out the bombing, was sentenced to death Friday by a federal grand jury.
Questions have been raised over the safety of the U.S. Capitol building following other incidents in recent months. In April, a 22-year-old man entered the west side of the building and shot himself in front of several tourists. In the same month, a man landed a gyrocopter on the Capitol lawns.
“How much security can you have to still have a free flow of people coming into the Capitol to see the Capitol. It’s the constant balance of security and freedom, something we must make a judgment in everything we do,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in April, adding: “What safeguards can we use? We don’t want to be a place where we’re saying this is an iron-clad Capitol and have such restrictions as to people having access to it. Nonetheless, we have to ensure the safety of those people.”