A Major League Baseball game triggered chaos at the nation’s capitol, when a pre-game parachuting stunt triggered an evacuation of the congressional complex.
The Capitol Police issued “a probable threat” warning to lawmakers and congressional staffers at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday night, when a twin-engine plane began circling the restricted airspace over Capitol Hill.
Panicked workers fled buildings in the Capitol complex, but rather than weapons of attack, the U.S. Army Golden Knights dropped out of the plane and parachuted into Nationals Park, prior to the team’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks as part of Military Appreciation Day festivities.
Ten minutes after the warning, the Capitol Police issued a correction. “The Capitol was evacuated out of an abundance of caution this evening,” they posted on Twitter. “There is no threat at the Capitol. More details to come.”
The Capitol was evacuated out of an abundance of caution this evening.
There is no threat at the Capitol.
More details to come. pic.twitter.com/7qqxqQyzlD
— U.S. Capitol Police (@CapitolPolice) April 20, 2022
The plane reportedly took off from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, and despite air traffic control recordings confirming that the Army’s airplane actively coordinated its flight with a control tower at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, the Capitol Police were unaware.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi placed the blame squarely on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for its “apparent failure to notify Capitol Police of the pre-planned flyover Nationals Stadium.”
She said that the error was “outrageous and inexcusable,” but praised the Capitol Police for ensuring “the safety of all who work in these hallowed halls.”
Pelosi went on to complain that “the unnecessary panic caused by this apparent negligence was particularly harmful for Members, staff and institutional workers still grappling with the trauma of the attack on their workplace on January 6th.”
She warned that Congress was “looking forward” to reviewing the incident report and finding out which person at the FAA would be “held accountable for this outrageous and frightening mistake.”