LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – WHAS11's Political Reporter Joe Arnold talked to the staff of local lawmakers on the phone during the lockdown on Thursday, Oct. 3.
Congressman John Yarmuth's office, not far from the Capitol, and Congressman Brett Guthrie had just left House chambers when shots were fired.
They didn't know if it was a terrorist attack or a D.C. city crime that had drifted onto Capitol grounds. But congressional staff knew police were taking it very seriously.
The following is an e-mail sent to those at the Capitol at 2:28 p.m.: shelter in place--gunshots have been reported on Capitol Hill.
As the e-mail dinged in congressional inboxes, an internal alert system sounded in offices.
Congressman Brett Guthrie describes how it unfolded.
“We actually had just voted. So a lot of us [were] walking back. We had voted on a funding of veterans administration bill,” U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie (R) said. “And we had just gotten back and I had just gotten into my office when--there's a speaker system through each office and Capitol Hill Police said there was shots. I don't know the exact words but basically, 'This is not a drill' and take this seriously and lock in place.”
The alerts sounded in every Capitol office building. Congressman John Yarmuth was in his office. His staff was gathering in a center office space and away from windows as described by his communications director Stephen George.
George said there is an internal communication system, like a public radio, that will quickly notify people in the building.
“And we'll get an immediate alert there and then there are loudspeakers so that anyone who is in the hallways or in any of the other public common spaces will be notified as well; we get e-mails as well,” George said.
“Everybody in a hallway has to go into an office. We actually had a lady that was from another office that came into our office door. Then, you close and lock all the doors,” Guthrie said.
The shelter in place was lifted at 3:02 p.m. That email reads: The United States Capitol Police have stabilized the incident. Occupants may exit their shelter in place location.