While tourists from all over the country visited Washington D.C. for the annual Cherry Blossom festival on Saturday, a gunman committed suicide on the West Front of the Capitol Hill. It was confirmed on the scene that the gunman had died from a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head. The man was identified as 22 year old Leo P. Thornton from Lincolnwood, Illinois. It is suspected that his main intention was to send a message to Congress. Right before he shot himself, around 1:30pm, witnesses said that he had a sign attached to his hand that read, “Tax the one percent.”
A rolling suitcase was also found near the man, and the bomb squad immediately arrived on the scene to investigate. However, the squad did not find a bomb, nor did they find other weapons that would threaten people’s lives. The gunman claimed no alliance to terrorist groups, nor have any terrorist groups claimed credit for orchestrating the attack.
Although there was chatter about what was going on, no signs of panic was shown by the tourists or residents in the area. People were only curious as to what was occurring and why everything had been blocked off. Workers in buildings were told to remain inside, while tourists outside were told to take cover and not come near the West Front of the Capitol building. The Capitol and visitor center was also on lockdown starting around 1:15pm while the investigation was ongoing, but was lifted approximately at 3:00 pm.
Many tourists were disappointed, as they were eager to get a closer look at the Capitol building. However, as the investigation finished, the Capitol was reopened and the Cherry Blossom Festival went on as planned. Lawmakers were not present in the building during the incident as they are currently on leave for spring recess.
This isn’t the first incident that has occurred in the nation’s Capital. In 2013 a woman tried to breach the barrier at the White House, which led to a wild car chase. Another incident recently occurred where a man from Florida landed his one man plane on the lawn of the White House.