- The Washington Times - Monday, April 11, 2005

U.S. Capitol Police yesterday arrested a man who carried two suitcases to the West Front of the Capitol and told officers that he wanted to speak with President Bush.

The incident began shortly before 1 p.m. Police said the man, who has not been identified, did not make any threats, but acted suspiciously.

The man was dressed in black pants and a black shirt and stood facing the Capitol on the lower portico, flanked by two black suitcases.

Police said officers tried to engage the man in conversation, but that he appeared nervous and unwilling to talk.

“He only would say at first that he wanted to speak to the president,” said Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer.

Chief Gainer said the man was 33 and from China and was carrying no identification, according to the Associated Press.

For about 45 minutes, the man stood with his hands at his sides or clasped.

Capitol Police armed with machine guns took positions on the balconies and upper porticos of the Capitol.

Office Michael Lauer, a Capitol Police spokesman, said the building was not evacuated, although people were removed from the immediate area near the West Front side. Police restricted access to the building and closed off sections of Constitution Avenue and Independence Avenue during the incident.

About 45 minutes into the standoff, four officers from the department’s Containment and Emergency Response Team, similar to a SWAT team, crept up the lawn from the north side. The officer in front carried a riot shield, and the other officers crouched behind him. All were outfitted in riot gear and held machine guns.

The man did not appear to notice the approach of the officers, who were in plain view of reporters and tourists gathered at the foot of the lawn between the Reflecting Pool and First Street.

When the officers got to a 4-foot stone wall behind the man, they hid. At one point, the man turned but did not appear to see the officers. The officers crept over the wall and sneaked up on the man, eventually tackling him hard to the ground.

When the officers pounced, several tourists cheered and applauded.

The officers picked the man up by his wrists and dragged him from the suitcases to a waiting ambulance, where medical crews attended to him.

A member of a hazardous-materials crew X-rayed the suitcases.

Police said the man was carrying several suspicious items in one of the bags, including a watch and some wires, but the items were later determined to be harmless.

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