(WASHINGTON) — A man fatally shot himself after ramming his car into a security barricade at the Capitol early Sunday morning, police said.
U.S. Capitol Police said in an initial, brief statement that a man exited his vehicle after crashing it around 4 a.m., after which the vehicle “became engulfed in flames.”
The man then “fired several shots into the air” and shot himself as officers approached, police said.
“They had heard the gunshots, and Capitol police officers were responding. As [the man] got just onto the East Front of the Capitol property, one of our officers observed him to put the gun to his head and shoot himself,” Chief Tom Manger told reporters later Sunday. “Our officers then made sure that he was not a threat and then approached him. And, in fact, he was deceased.”
Late Sunday afternoon, police identified the man as 29-year old Richard A. York III, of Delaware, and said his next of kin had been notified.
His motive remained unclear, police said then.
Nobody else was injured in the incident and York did not seem to be targeting members of Congress, which is in recess, the police said in their first statement.
“[I]t does not appear officers fired their weapons,” police said.
An investigation was underway into York’s background, according to authorities. D.C. police are “handling the death investigation.” In a separate statement D.C. police confirmed this but said they had “no further details on the identification of the decedent or motive” no share.
Manger said in Sunday’s press conference that it was unclear if the incident was the result of a mental health emergency.
“A very preliminary check didn’t reveal anything on social media,” he said, adding, “Part of the investigation is we talk to this individual’s family and friends to see, perhaps, if we can get more information from them.”
York was not known to Capitol Police prior to this incident, Manger said.
“We do know that the subject has a criminal history over the past 10 years or so,” he said. “But nothing that, at this point, would link him to anything here at the Capitol.”
The incident comes amid what law enforcement has called heightened concerns of political violence — and in the shadow of alarming attacks at the Capitol in the past two years.
A Capitol Police officer was killed in a car-ramming attack in April 2021 just months after the deadly insurrection in which a violent mob ransacked the building and sent lawmakers temporarily into hiding.
Several officers died following that riot, including some from suicide.
ABC News’ Tia Humphries and Beatrice Peterson contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.