UPDATE: MSNBC is now reporting that the sounds might have been an elevator mechanic banging heavy equipment in a elevator shaft. With one reportedly hospitalized for a panic attack, if this is indeed the source of the sounds, it will clearly indicate exactly how silly our national security system is.
UPDATE by Michael Hampton: Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) is liveblogging from in his office. He says the Capitol Police have concluded their investigation, but haven’t yet told them what’s going on. The person taken to the hospital was one of Kingston’s staffers, and has since been released.
This story is breaking now. We’ll provide details as they become available. From WTOP:
WASHINGTON – People inside the Rayburn Building are sheltering in place as Capitol police investigate “the sound of gunfire in the garage level of the Rayburn House Office Building,” said an announcement on the internal Capitol voice alarm system.
There is no confirmation of gunfire.
The report has prompted a lockdown of D.C. public schools in the area, as well as private schools.
Montgomery County Council member Howard Dennis, who works for the Government Reform Committee, tells WTOP his office in Rayburn is locked down.
“We got the beeps as soon as the gunshots were heard, and actually they were preceded by one of our staffers having seen the cops running down the hallway — appearing to be chasing someone,” Dennis said. “We all got the e-mail to shelter in place.”
The AP is adding:
Within minutes of the reports, Rayburn halls were virtually empty and police were not allowing anyone to leave or take elevators or stairs to the garage.
The event occurred at the end of a week of unusually tumultuous series of events that ironically enough, began in the same building. FBI agents armed with a search warrant seized documents and computer material from the first office of Rep. William Jefferson in an weekend raid. Jefferson is at the center of a federal bribery investigation.
At the Capitol, police quickly closed all doors, stopping people from either entering the building. Tourists who were in the building were herded into a first-floor chamber in the middle of the building. Other corridors on the House side of the building, where lawmakers had already left for the Memorial Day recess, were deserted.
Jeff Connor, a spokesman for Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., said Capitol Hill police notified the office that gunfire was heard in the Rayburn building garage.
“They specifically said there was the sound of gunfire on one of the garage levels of the Rayburn House office building and asked staff to remain in their offices,” Connor said.
Flipping the tube on now.