News & Politics

Yesterday Resulted in Four Deaths, the Discovery of Two Pipe Bombs, and a Mere 68 Arrests

Arrests at the Capitol building didn't start until 6 PM.

In a press briefing today, new DC Police Chief Robert Contee III confirmed that 68 people were arrested by his department after yesterday’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building. Five arrests were made for possession of an illegal firearm (one was on Capitol grounds); two arrests were for illegal possession of other weapons; 25 arrests were for curfew violations and unlawful entry; and 36 arrests were for curfew violations. Only one of the individuals arrested was from the District.

Why didn’t DC police arrest anyone simply for unlawful entry of the Capitol building? That’s because arrests did not start there until 6 PM, almost five hours after it was breached by a violent mob.

Two pipe bombs were recovered yesterday, one at the RNC headquarters and one at the DNC headquarters, both of which are near the Capitol building. A cooler with Molotov cocktails was found on the grounds of the Capitol. 

Four people died at the riots. One participant was shot by a Capitol Police Officer (there is an investigation under way), and three individuals suffered separate medical emergencies in the area around the Capitol grounds. Roughly 56 DC Police officers were injured, including one officer who was hospitalized after being dragged into a crowd, beaten, and tased.

Contee said the arrests took so long and were so few in number because the situation at the Capitol was “out of control” and needed to be secured before any arrests could be made. The Capitol is federal property and not under the jurisdiction of DC Police, so legally Contee’s department couldn’t assist until they were asked to do so by the Capitol Police. The department’s presence was not requested until 1 PM. Though DC Mayor Muriel Bowser called up the DC National Guard days ago in preparation for this event, she could not legally deploy it to the Capitol or any other federal jurisdiction.

Contee claims that DC Police had no intelligence suggesting there would be a breach of the Capitol,  though rioters publicly discussed planning for such an attack on public message boards, as Washingtonian’s Andrew Beaujon reported Tuesday. Beaujon even contacted the Capitol Police about his findings. Their response: “…the United States Capitol Police has comprehensive security plans in place and we continuously monitor and assess new and emerging threats, with the overall goal of keeping those within the Capitol Complex safe and secure.”





Jane Recker
Assistant Editor

Jane is a Chicago transplant who now calls Cleveland Park her home. Before joining Washingtonian, she wrote for Smithsonian Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and opera.