Suspected gunman taken into custody following incident at US Capitol building

Workers in the Capitol were told to "shelter in place" during the incident yesterday

Suspected gunman taken into custody following incident at US Capitol building

Image: Alex Brandon / AP/Press Association Images

A suspected gunman has been shot after reportedly pointing his weapon at a police officer at the US Capitol Visitor Center.

The suspect, Larry Dawson, was taken to hospital after being shot by the officer at a security screen.

The 66-year-old from Tennessee is in a stable but critical condition. He has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon and assault on a police officer while armed, Capitol Police said.

A woman in her late 30s suffered minor injuries in the incident and was also taken to hospital.

Reports that a police officer had been wounded or that a suspect had tried to enter the White House were "incorrect", police said.

Workers in the Capitol were told to "shelter in place" and those outside were urged to take cover. The White House was initially put into lockdown, but this was lifted after a matter of minutes.

It is understood the suspect was known to officers, but there did not appear to be any connection to terrorism, a police spokesman said.

A weapon was recovered from the scene and the suspect's vehicle was found on Capitol grounds, Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa said.

"During routine administrative screening, the individual drew what appeared to be a weapon and pointed it at officers," the police chief said.

He added: "Based on initial investigation, we believe this is an act of a single person who has frequented the Capitol grounds before. There is no reason to believe this is anything more than a criminal act."

Police believe the weapon may have been a pellet gun rather than an actual firearm, the Wall Street journal reported, citing a law enforcement official.

The event unfolded with Congress in recess and lawmakers back in their districts.

Armed police cordoned off the streets immediately around the Capitol building, which were thick with tourists visiting for spring holidays and the Cherry Blossom Festival.

The shooting happened just a few hours after a drill for an active shooter took place at the Capitol, creating further confusion.

Traffic was jammed in the area, but the scene was relatively calm, according to witnesses. 

A work crew on the north side of the Supreme Court, across the street, was asked to stop work and move away from the building as a precaution.

The Capitol Visitor Center is where tourists gather to take tours. Mr Verderosa said it would be open as normal on Tuesday.