WASHINGTON - A man drove his car into a barricade near the U.S. Capitol early Sunday and then began firing gunshots in the air from the burning car before fatally shooting himself, police said.
The incident happened just after 4 a.m. at a vehicle barricade set at East Capitol Street and 2nd Street in Washington.
It comes at a time when law enforcement authorities across the country are facing an increasing number of threats and federal officials have warned about the potential of violent attacks on government buildings in the days since the FBI’s search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
The attack is reminiscent of an incident when a man drove a vehicle into two Capitol Police officers at a checkpoint in April 2021, killing an 18-year veteran of the force. And many on Capitol Hill remain on edge after supporters of the then-president stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Authorities said the man, identified as Richard A. York III, 29, of Delaware, crashed into the barricade and as he was getting out of the car, the vehicle became engulfed in flames. The man then opened fire, firing several shots into the air as he walked closer to the Capitol and police approached.
Capitol Police said York shot himself as the officers neared. He was later pronounced dead.
Police say D.C. Fire officials are still investigating what caused the car to catch fire, but they believe that York started the blaze himself.
A US Capitol Police Officer works near a police barricade on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on August 14, 2022. - A man died early Sunday near the US Capitol building after driving his car into a barricade and firing shots into the air before turnin
Police said "it does not appear the man was targeting any member of Congress" and that investigators are examining York's background as they work to try to discern a motive. Both the House and Senate are in recess and very few staff members work in the Capitol complex at that hour.
Authorities said no other injuries were reported, and no police officers returned fire.
U.S. Capitol Police says the death investigation will be handled by Metropolitan Police.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.