WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – The Federal Aviation Administration’s failure to notify Capitol police about a parachute stunt at a nearby baseball stadium prompted an alert and immediate evacuation of the US Capitol, a law enforcement official said Thursday. The FAA said it was reviewing the communication breakdown.
Police alerts about the plane carrying members of the US military’s Golden Knights who later parachuted into the National Park for Military Appreciation Night, prompting congressional staff to flee the Capitol and legislative buildings on Wednesday evening Sent.
A law enforcement official said the FAA did not provide necessary notification to Capitol police that an aircraft may be circling overhead, triggering alerts and sirens sounding at the Capitol to clear the premises.
The incident was a surprise communications failure, made more noteworthy by Washington’s focus on improving security since the deadly attack on the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., promised a congressional review of the FAA’s “apparent failure,” which she called “outrageous and unforgivable.”
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Capitol Police on Thursday described the decision not to alert the force as “extremely unusual” and said officers followed policies and procedures necessary to ensure the safety of congressional employees.
“The United States Capitol Police must make separate decisions that can make the difference between life and death,” the Capitol Police statement said. “The decision to vacate campus is not one we take lightly.”
In an overnight statement, the FAA said it takes “seriously its role in protecting national airspace and will review and share updates with a thorough and prompt review of the events of this evening.” The agency said it knows its actions affect others, “particularly in our nation’s capital region, and we must communicate with our law enforcement partners early and often.”
Kelly Legspie, the spokeswoman for the US Army Recruiting Command behind the pregame performance of the Golden Knights, said in a statement: “We are reviewing all aspects of the incident to ensure that all procedures for both the flight and the coordination are in proper form. It was followed by a parachute demonstration.”
Many working on Capitol Hill have been on the sidelines for more than a year after hundreds of pro-Trump rioters pushed back heavy police officers, smashed windows and doors and ransacked the Capitol as Congress spoke to Joe Biden in 2020. was voting to certify the presidential election of. Victory.
In Wednesday’s incident, the plane, a twin-engine aircraft, took off from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland and, when alerted, was circling inside heavily restricted airspace near the Capitol. Radar tracking data shows that the aircraft, a de Havilland Twin Otter, stayed away from prohibited airspace over the Capitol Building and other government premises at all times. Air traffic control recordings capture Army aircraft coordinating their flight with the control tower at nearby Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
Investigators were still working to determine why the incident was not properly coordinated with law enforcement officials in Washington, law enforcement officials and another US official familiar with the matter told the Associated Press. Several federal agencies began scuffles with officials as the plane circled overhead.
The capital region is defended by several surface-to-air missile sites as well as by military airmen on round-the-clock alert. It didn’t appear that any of those systems had been scrambled.
Officials believe that based on a preliminary review, the pilot may not have reported the take-off properly or had the proper clearance, officials familiar with the matter said. They were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
In a statement Wednesday evening, Pelosi said, “Congress looks forward to fully reviewing the results of the post-action review, which determines what went wrong today, and the Federal Aviation Ministry for this outrageous and appalling mistake.” Who will be held accountable in the administration.”
The plane landed back in Andrews at about 6:50 a.m. after the parachutists landed in the middle of the field in the National Park, a little more than 1 mile (1.61 kilometer) from the US Capitol.
One witness to the chaos at the Capitol was Irene Dolan, the wife of national pitcher Sean Doolittle. “I was walking the dogs behind the Dirksen Senate office building,” Dolan tweeted. “People started streaming all at once. They told me to turn around and get away as fast as I could. Some people were calm but a lot of people were really nervous. I know I was. ”
Capitol complex buildings reopen after 8 p.m.
The Washington Nationals lost the game 11–2 to the Arizona Diamondbacks.