WASHINGTON – An armed man who ran through the U.S. Capitol this week was stopped by civilian employees, not police officers, authorities said Friday, reversing course in what was already an embarrassing security breach.
Carlos Greene, 20, was arrested Monday after allegedly crashing an SUV into a police cruiser, then darting into the Capitol armed with a handgun. Following the arrest, acting Capitol Police Chief Christopher McGaffin said his officers subdued Greene outside a basement office that distributes flags to lawmakers.
Federal prosecutors added details to the story Tuesday, saying an officer stopped Greene at the point of a shotgun, and only after Greene tried to grab the gun.
On Friday, Capitol Police said unarmed employees of the flag office had stopped Greene seconds before officers arrived.
"It was the civilians who did have him corralled or subdued," said Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman. "We were hot on his trail. We just didn't get there in time."
She said Greene may not have been trying to grab the gun from police and may only have been trying to push it away.
The new details won't affect the criminal case against Greene, who is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, but they add a new blemish for police in a case that lawmakers have already criticized.
Schneider called the security breach unacceptable and said police are reviewing procedures to ensure it can't happen again. Lawmakers also have said they want to review the incident and find out what went wrong.
It was the worst security breach since the 1998 shooting deaths of two Capitol police officers. In that case, a man with a history of mental illness ran through a first-floor door of the Capitol, shot to death one officer at the door and another inside the adjacent office of then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas.
Security has increased significantly since that event and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Schneider praised the "valiant efforts" of the civilians but said police still recommend people call them rather than getting involved in security threats.