U.S. Capitol Visitor Center (Photo via Wikimedia/Fletcher6)

(Updated at 9:45 a.m.) Authorities have determined the U.S. Capitol complex is safe after investigating a report of a suspicious package this morning, according to authorities.

The probe centered around 1st and East Capitol streets. The area is near the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, where police shot a man with a gun yesterday.

Photo via Wikimedia/Fletcher6


U.S. Capitol shooting

(Updated at 3:55 p.m.) A shooting happened in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center this afternoon, various news outlets reported.


Morning Rundown

Public Art on 8th Street

District Prepares for Papal Visit — Police are expecting large crowds on the National Mall and around the U.S. Capitol when Pope Francis visits D.C. next month. [Washington Post]

H Street Streetcar Exploring Mobile Payment — The D.C. Department of Transportation is looking for a company to design a way for future passengers on the H Street NE streetcar to pay using their cell phones. [Washington Business Journal]

Touring the Nationals Park New Nursing Lounge — In response to a Change.org petition, Nationals Park unveiled the Lansinoh Nursing Lounge, where breastfeeding mothers can nurse in comfort without missing any of the game. [Washingtonian]

Kingman Park Beekeepers Ready New Batch of Honey — The beekeepers behind H Street Honey are ready to start selling their hyper-local honey. [Hill Now]

Send Hill Now a Letter — Have something you want to share with Hill Now and our readers? We publish article and opinion contributions pertaining to local issues in the Capitol Hill community and Ward 6. [Hill Now]


Capitol Building scaffolding (Photo via Flickr/remembertobreathe)(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) The U.S. Capitol and the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center have reopened after authorities evacuated them earlier this afternoon, according to the U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms.

The Capitol building and visitor center closed to the public after an alarm sounded, the Sergeant at Arms tweeted about 12:45 p.m. By 2 p.m., both of them were open.

The cause of the alarm is under investigation by the U.S. Capitol Police and the D.C. Fire Department, Lt. Kimberly Schneider of the U.S. Capitol Police said in an email. But authorities haven’t found any signs of smoke or a fire, she said.

Parts of 1st and East Capitol streets were closed to traffic in connection with the evacuation. But cars now can travel down the streets.

Photo via Flickr/remembertobreathe


Morning Rundown

Smith Commons mural, H Street NE

Capitol Sledding Ban Might Be Dropped — Sledding might not be a crime. The House Appropriations Committee passed a provision this week that would allow sledding on the Capitol grounds. In defiance of the ban, families held a non-violent sled-in at the Capitol on March 5. [Washington Post]

Navy Yard Development Map — JDLand mapped out what development is planned and when it’s expected to be complete in the booming Navy Yard, aka Capitol Riverfront, area. By the site’s count, 21 new buildings are now complete and about 37 new buildings are on the way. [JDland]

Senior Citizen Assault Suspect Had Assault Arrest — The 19-year-old suspected of punching a 69-year-old man in the Eastern Market Metro station last week is on probation for assault. He attacked an actor after a performance last May, leaving the victim in the hospital, police said. [NBC Washington]


Morning Rundown

Flowering tree in NoMa

How the Gyrocopter Made It Onto the Capitol Lawn — Aviation and security officials said yesterday that the gyrocopter that landed on the west lawn of the Capitol building April 15 appeared on radar screens as a tiny dot — like how a balloon or a flock of birds would appear. [Washington Post]

Transit Perks at H Street Development With Little Parking — A 28-unit development planned at 501 H Street NE will have just five designated parking spaces, so residents have proposed giving new residents a SmartTrip card, Bikeshare membership and carshare membership. ANC 6C supports the plan. [UrbanTurf]

Metro Fare Evasion Crackdown — Metro is warning people not to try riding the bus without paying. Police may make arrests on board buses with high numbers of unpaid fares. [NBC Washington]

Union Kitchen Grocery to Open Next Week — The founders of Union Kitchen will open their cafe and small grocery store at 538 3rd St. NE on Monday. Union Kitchen Grocery is a “combination of a comfortable coffee shop and … [will] harken back to its history as an old school corner grocery,” co-owner Jonas Singer told Hill Now earlier this year. [Washington Post]


Morning Rundown

Construction at The Wharf on the Southwest waterfront

Second Tour Bus Fire in NoMa — A shuttle bus caught fire in NoMa yesterday for the second night in a row. A witness to the fire Tuesday night told PoPville that he or she saw “apparently homeless people” exit similar shuttle buses parked nearby. We’re checking it out. [PoPville]

Capitol Police Crackdown on Holiday Parties — Officials at the Capitol announced yesterday that only select members of Congress will be able to celebrate Memorial Day and the Fourth of July on the Capitol building’s terraces. The changes were made to prevent possible embarrassment for Congress and for security reasons, authorities said. [NBC Washington]

Pedestrian Safety on Maryland Avenue NE — Hill residents say Maryland Avenue NE is still too dangerous. A speed camera installed in October doesn’t seem to have helped. [WAMU]

Traffic Changes for CSX Construction — The CSX reconstruction of the Virginia Avenue train tunnel will shift traffic on 4th Street SE. The ad hoc skate park under Southeast Freeway is also affected by the work, as Hill Now reported. [The Hill Is Home]


Morning Rundown

A walk near Delaware and D streets NE

Gyrocopter Pilot Allowed to Return Home — The 61-year-old mailman who landed a small aircraft on the west lawn of the Capitol building this week was charged with a felony yesterday and allowed to return to Florida, on an order of house arrest. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said the gyrocopter “apparently literally flew in under the radar.” [NBC Washington]

More on Argonaut Owner’s Book About Addiction — The co-owner of The Argonaut, Scott Magnuson, told The Washington Post how he runs a bar while being in recovery for alcohol and drug abuse. Magnuson talked with Hill Now in February about the book he coauthored with his wife, Shaaren Pine. [Washington Post]

Metro to Make Radio System Fixes Next Year — Metro said it will start upgrading the radio and cellphone systems inside tunnels in January 2016. The fixes follow communication trouble that slowed the emergency response to the deadly smoke incident near L’Enfant Plaza in January. [WTOP]

A Capitol Hill House That Has a HistoryThe Washington Post takes a look at Capitol Hill’s Georgian-style Maples manor house, which George Washington often visited. [Washington Post]


Morning Rundown

Congressional Cemetery (Photo courtesy of Hill Now Flickr pool/Jim Havard)

The Man Who Landed an Aircraft on the Capitol Lawn — As suspected, the pilot who landed a gyroscope on the west lawn of the Capitol building was Florida man Doug Hughes, who intended to hand-deliver letters to members of Congress. He’s due in court today. [NBC News]

Excessive Force Allegation Near Stadium-Armory Metro Station — Metro Transit Police are reviewing their procedures for handling juvenile criminal suspects after a 14-year-old girl said she was assaulted by an officer in 2013, near the Stadium-Armory Metro station. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on the teen’s behalf, which was settled out of court. [Washington Post]

Banh Mi Vending Machine at The Pug — The H Street NE bar The Pug and other local businesses are getting custom vending machines with banh mi sandwiches, beef jerky and wasabi peas. The machines were created by a Toki Underground chef, a Maketto staffer and others. [Washington City Paper]

Emancipation Day Has a Tighter Budget — The budget for the Emancipation Day festivities today is $250,000, down from more than $350,000 last year. Former mayor Vincent Gray and D.C. Council battled over the budget last year. [WAMU]

Photo courtesy of Hill Now Flickr pool/Jim Havard


(Updated at 4 p.m.) The Capitol building was under lockdown this afternoon after a pilot landed a small, helicopter-like aircraft on the Capitol grounds.

A gyrocopter landed on the West Front grounds before 1:30 p.m., according to news reports and eyewitnesses. The pilot flying over protected airspace was arrested by U.S. Capitol police, according to NBC Washington.

Police have not identified the pilot, but a man who said he is a postal carrier who lives near Tampa, Florida took responsibility for the stunt. A man claiming to be Doug Hughes, 61, wrote on his website, thedemocracyclub.org, that he would embark on his “freedom flight” today to deliver 535 letters to members of Congress to speak out against corruption.

The aircraft was still perched on the grass directly in front of the Capitol building for hours, and was removed about 3:40 p.m. Dozens of onlookers gathered in front of police tape blocking the scene, which was reopened to the public by 4 p.m.

Eyewitness Nora Neus, 21, was strolling on the National Mall when she saw the aircraft approach the Capitol from the west.

“I thought it was a joke at first, then my next thought was that this was something really bad,” the 21-year-old from Tenafly, New Jersey said.

Police arrested the pilot, a middle-aged man, as soon as he landed, Neus said. He did not resist.

“It almost seemed like he was expecting it,” the witness said.

Here’s what other witnesses saw:

The pilot landed on his own, but authorities were prepared to shoot him down if he made it much closer to the Capitol, House Homeland Security panel Chairman Michael McCaul told NBC.

A man claiming to be Hughes told the Tampa Bay Times he planned to fly a gyrocopter to the Capitol today. He plotted the flight for more than two years, he told the paper for a story published today.

“No sane person,” he said, “would do what I’m doing.”

U.S. Capitol police have not confirmed the man they arrested was Hughes, and did not immediately respond to inquiries.

A gyrocopter or autogyro looks similar to a helicopter but uses a different kind of propulsion system.

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Morning Rundown

Potomac Avenue

Local Ice Cream Company Criticized for ‘Bangkok Brothel’ Flavor — The Union Kitchen-based company Milk Cult apologized for naming a vegan coconut milk ice cream Bangkok Brothel. The advocacy group People Against Rape Culture shamed the company online for “praising” sex trafficking. Milk Cult won’t change the name but will donate a portion of proceeds to prostitution-related nonprofits. [Washington City Paper]

Union Station Development PlansThe New York Times delved into the future of Union Station, showing renderings for the 14-acre project with new retail, residential units, offices and hotel rooms. [New York Times]

Humane Society Coming to Near Southeast — The Washington Humane Society bought the vacant former Exxon site at 11th and M streets SE. [JDLand]

Capitol Building Gossip App — Congressional staffers can now use an anonymous gossip app called Cloakroam, which works only in the Capitol building. “Capitol Hill feels a lot like a college, with thousands of twenty-somethings all working on the same campus, eating in cafeterias and taking summer recesses,” TechCrunch wrote. [TechCrunch]


Morning Rundown

Cherry blossom buds

Aftermath of Suicide at the Capitol Building — The person who fatally shot himself on the west side of the Capitol building on Saturday was a 22-year-old with an Illinois address. He reportedly was carrying a sign that said “Tax the one percent.” Regular tourism continued this weekend, though some visitors said they were haunted by the news. [Washington Post]

Bullfrog Bagels Opening Near Eastern Market — The popular H Street NE bagel shop Bullfrog Bagels will open a second outpost, at 317 7th St. SE, near Eastern Market. The shop will likely open in September, the owner said. [Capitol Hill Corner]

Man’s Body Found Off Southwest Waterfront — A man’s body was recovered from the water Saturday afternoon near the 1300 block of Maine Avenue SW, police said Sunday. [WTOP]

Potential Marine Barracks Construction Sites — The U.S. Marine Corps released a study of five potential sites for new housing near the Marine Barracks complex on 8th Street SE. All five sites are between 5th and 11th streets SE, south of Southeast Freeway. [JDLand]

International Spy Museum May Move to L’Enfant Plaza — The museum wants to build at six-story building at 900 L’Enfant Plaza. The plan is subject to approval by the Commission of Fine Arts and will be reviewed this week. [Washington Business Journal]


Morning Rundown

Public art at 1st and M streets NE

Woman Charged With Murdering Hill Lawyer — A 21-year-old woman has been charged with murder for the stabbing death of Capitol Hill resident David Messerschmitt, police announced. The 30-year-old was found Feb. 10 in a hotel near Thomas Circle. Investigators think robbery was the motive. [Washington Post]

A Look at Iron Ornaments for the Dome of the Capitol — A Post reporter traveled to Utah to see how cast iron flowers, acorns and grape clusters are being poured to decorate the dome of the Capitol building. [Washington Post]

H Street Wal-Mart on NPR — For the past two days, NPR has reported on urban Wal-Mart stores, including the H Street NW location. Workers said they’re happy to have jobs but some still need public assistance because they can’t get scheduled for enough hours. [NPR]

It’s Little League Season — The Capitol Hill Little League season started over the weekend, with a visit from the Racing President William Taft. [The Hill Is Home]


(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) Sledding is still officially illegal on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, but that didn’t stop many families looking for snow day fun.

Breaking the rules, at least two dozen families slid down the West Lawn on sleds and saucers this afternoon.

With “cabin fever” on their day off, Hill resident Erin McKeon took her daughters Claire, 7, and Molly, 5 to the Capitol.

“As we were walking here, I said to the kids, ‘Don’t talk to the cops, don’t talk to the cops,'” she said about the ban. “It’s silly. What are we harming?”

Del. Eleanor Holmes, who made a last-minute push for the ban to be lifted, thanked Capitol Police for not enforcing it today.

Hill resident John Fleming and his two sons, who are 6 and 3, hauled two snow saucers to the West Lawn. Fleming sledded the West Lawn as a kid and wanted his children to have the same experience.

Federal employee Brandon Ashley stood at the top of the hill holding a sign that read “Sled Free or Die.” He showed up after reading about the “sled-in” on social media.

“I hate seeing kids not having fun,” he said.

Capitol Police officers distributed a flier with copies of the no-sledding rule about 12:50 p.m., Washington City Paper reported. Officers were nowhere to been seen later in the afternoon.

The sled-in was planned this morning after Capitol Police said last night that the ban would be maintained for “security reasons” and to avoid injuries on Capitol grounds.

On the West Lawn, a 7-year-old bulldog named B.B., short for Baby Bulldog, got in on the fun too. She previously lived in Corpus Christi.

“We’re not sure she’s used to this,” her owner said.

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After U.S. Capitol Police refused to temporarily allow sledding on the Capitol grounds, guerrilla sledders will hit the hills this afternoon.

A “sled-in” protest is scheduled for 1 p.m. on the West Lawn of the Capitol Building.

Related hashtags abound:


If you’d rather sled somewhere without a ban, here are some suggestions in Rock Creek Park, Columbia Heights and Georgetown. Have some recommendations in Ward 6? Chime in in the comments.


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