Parts of Washington, D.C., will remain temporarily closed Saturday after a man fatally shot himself near the U.S. Capitol, prompting a lockdown at the government building and surrounding areas. Police said they would withhold the man's identity until next of kin have been identified and pending further investigation.
The U.S. Capitol Police confirmed shortly after 6:15 p.m. EDT that a man walking in a public area near First Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW approached the Lower West Terrace of the Capitol around 1:05 p.m. EDT. He was carrying a backpack and a rolling suitcase.
"The man who turned the gun on himself was the only shooter involved. No other injuries were reported," police said in a statement. A bomb squad searched the backpack and suitcase and confirmed that neither item contained hazardous materials.
Capitol police said temporary closures will remain in place until further notice at the following locations: the Lower West Terrace; First Street between Independence Avenue, SW and Constitution Avenue, NW; Maryland Avenue between First Street, SW and Third Street, SW; Pennsylvania Avenue between First Street, NW and Third Street, NW. The lockdown on the Capitol itself has been lifted.
Officials said no further information is currently available. Washington's Metropolitan Police Department is handling the death investigation. Local authorities earlier in the day ruled the incident a suicide.
“At this juncture, based on the facts that I provided to you, there seems to be no nexus to terrorism or anything related to that,” Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine told reporters in a news conference. Dine did not disclose what kind of weapon the man was carrying, though he said he believed only one weapon was used.
The police chief added that the man who shot and killed himself was also found with a sign with a message relating to “social justice” but did not elaborate on what the sign said.
Washington on Saturday was full of visitors who came to watch the National Cherry Blossom Festival parade, one of the most popular tourist draws in the city. Visitors typically swing by the Capitol building to enjoy one of the best views of the National Mall. A glimpse at the White House was also hard to come by as Secret Service agents cleared pedestrians away from Pennsylvania Avenue.