Police secure U.S. Capitol after pro-Trump rioters cause bedlam at heart of U.S. government

Heavily armed police have secured the U.S. Capitol nearly four hours after supporters of President Donald Trump pushed past barricades and forced themselves inside the complex on Wednesday. Officials say four died: one woman who was shot by police, three in medical emergencies.

Officials say 4 dead; 1 woman shot by police, 3 in medical emergencies

Members of the D.C. National Guard are deployed outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Wednesday. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

The latest:

  • Pro-Trump rioters breach U.S. Capitol for nearly 4 hours.
  • Police say 4 dead: 1 woman shot by police, 3 in medical emergencies.
  • Police say 52 arrested, most relating to violation of D.C. 6 p.m. curfew.
  • Lawmakers move ahead with electoral college certification.
  • Trudeau, others express concern about violence.
  • Trump supporters gather outside some U.S. statehouses.

Heavily armed police secured the U.S. Capitol nearly four hours after supporters of President Donald Trump pushed past barricades and forced themselves inside the complex on Wednesday, with at least four deaths reported.

Washington police Chief Robert Contee said the dead included a woman who was shot by the U.S. Capitol Police, and three others who died in "medical emergencies."

The woman was shot as the mob tried to break through a barricaded door in the Capitol where police were armed on the other side. She was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Trump had urged his supporters to come to Washington to protest Congress's formal approval of president-elect Joe Biden's win in the general election, pushing unfounded claims that the election was stolen.

Police said both law enforcement and Trump supporters deployed chemical irritants during the hourslong occupation of the Capitol building before it was cleared by law enforcement. Several police officers were injured.

Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the U.S. Capitol amid Wednesday's violent protests in Washington. (Jose Luis Magana/The Associated Press)

Heavily armed officers, brought in as reinforcements, used tear gas to move people toward the door, then combed the halls for stragglers, pushing the mob farther out onto the plaza and lawn, in clouds of tear gas, and from flash-bangs and percussion grenades.

An announcement saying "the Capitol is secure" rang out Wednesday evening inside a secure location for officials of the House. Lawmakers applauded, and Congress reconvened, vowing to finish confirming the electoral college vote for Biden's election, even if it took all night.

In a late-night conference, the police chief said 52 people have been arrested. Contee said that 47 of them were related to violations of Mayor Muriel Bowser's 6 p.m. curfew; 26 involved people arrested on U.S. Capitol grounds.

Several others were arrested on charges related to carrying unlicensed or prohibited firearms.

In addition, Contee said, two pipe bombs were recovered from the headquarters of the Republican and Democratic national committees, as was a cooler from a vehicle on U.S. Capitol grounds that contained Molotov cocktails.

WATCH | How the protests unfolded:

How the siege on the U.S. Capitol unfolded

3 years ago
Duration 3:44
Featured VideoCBC News’ David Common breaks down what happened on Capitol Hill on Wednesday and how U.S. President Donald Trump stoked discontent among his supporters before he lost the election.

Video footage showed officers earlier letting people calmly walk out the doors of the Capitol despite the rioting and vandalism.

Outside, as darkness began to set in, law enforcement officials worked their way toward the protesters, using percussion grenades to try to clear the area around the Capitol. Big clouds of tear gas were visible.

Police in full riot gear moved down the west steps, clashing with demonstrators.

The Pentagon said about 1,100 D.C. National Guard members were being mobilized to help support law enforcement.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he is sending 1,000 members of the state's National Guard to Washington for up to two weeks to help "the peaceful transition of presidential power." They will join law enforcement from Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey who are also coming to D.C.'s aid.

Jaw-dropping images

Earlier Wednesday afternoon, chambers abruptly recessed as dozens of people breached security perimeters and lawmakers inside the House chamber were told to put on gas masks as tear gas was fired in the rotunda.

A chaplain prayed as police guarded the doors to the chamber and lawmakers tried to gather information about what was happening.

WATCH | Pro-Trump protesters storm barricades at U.S. Capitol:

Pro-Trump protesters storm barricades at U.S. Capitol

3 years ago
Duration 2:05
Featured VideoThousands of people protested at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., crashing through barricades and climbing the steps as Congress voted to certify Joe Biden’s presidential election victory.

Protesters made it inside the Senate chamber. One got up on the dais and yelled "Trump won that election." Several dozen were roaming through the halls, yelling, "Where are they?" Some were also in the visitors' galleries.

Pictures emerged of an armed standoff in the House as politicians cowered behind desks and people smashed the building's windows and climbed in. Newsmax showed footage of police and rioters squaring off in the Capitol rotunda.

The parade of jaw-dropping images continued: a man in a Make America Great Again hat, his feet up on Pelosi's desk, another striding through the rotunda with a Confederate flag over his shoulder, the dais occupied by a man with a Trump flag as a cape.

Outside, as police sirens echoed and helicopters pulsed overhead, thousands upon thousands of others massed on the Capitol steps cheered and celebrated news of the breach, waving flags, firing flares and popping smoke grenades from atop the balcony.

The skirmishes outside occurred in the very spot where Biden will be inaugurated in just two weeks.

Protesters tore down metal barricades at the bottom of the Capitol's steps and were met by officers in riot gear.

Some tried to push past the officers who held shields, and officers could be seen firing pepper spray into the crowd. Some in the crowd were shouting "traitors" as officers tried to keep them back.

The skirmishes came shortly after Trump addressed thousands of his supporters, riling up the crowd with his baseless claims of election fraud at a rally near the White House on Wednesday ahead of Congress's vote.

"We will not let them silence your voices," Trump told the protesters, who had lined up before sunrise to get a prime position to hear the president. 

After the Capitol was first breached, Trump encouraged supporters in a tweet to "remain peaceful," but didn't call for them to disperse.

WATCH | Trump supporters breach Capitol building:

Security breach in U.S. Capitol amid protests

3 years ago
Duration 5:42
Featured VideoTrump supporters breached the U.S. Capitol building in Washington after thousands of people descended on the city to protest against Joe Biden's confirmation certification.

'Unprecedented assault' 

Biden, who said U.S. democracy was under "unprecedented assault," called on Trump to go on national television and demand an end to "this siege."

Shortly afterward, Trump released a video on Twitter that repeated false statements about the election being stolen, but also told protesters to "go home now." (Twitter and Facebook eventually removed the video and suspended Trump from posting to their platforms.)

Vice-President Mike Pence had earlier called on protesters to leave immediately.

In a tweet Pence said, "This attack on our Capitol will not be tolerated and those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed concern about the violent scenes.

"Obviously we're concerned and we're following the situation minute by minute," Trudeau told the Vancouver radio station News 1130. "I think the American democratic institutions are strong, and hopefully everything will return to normal shortly."

WATCH | CBC reporter mobbed by angry Trump supporters in Washington:

CBC reporter mobbed by angry Trump supporters in Washington

3 years ago
Duration 0:45
Featured VideoSenior correspondent Katie Nicholson and her videographer were verbally accosted and jostled as the team reported from the streets of Washington.

Elsewhere in the U.S., Trump supporters massed outside statehouses from Georgia to New Mexico, leading to some evacuations as cheers rang out in reaction to the news that pro-Trump demonstrators had stormed the U.S. Capitol.

Hundreds of people gathered in state capitals across the country, waving signs saying "Stop the Steal" and "Four more years," most of them not wearing masks despite the coronavirus pandemic. A few carried long guns in places like Oklahoma and Georgia.

New Mexico state police evacuated staff from a Statehouse building that includes the governor's office and the secretary of state's office as a precaution shortly after hundreds of flag-waving supporters arrived in a vehicle caravan and on horseback.

Police officers look on as Trump supporters surround the U.S. Capitol building. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

With files from Reuters and CBC News