Gyrocopter pilot arrested after landing aircraft on Capitol grounds

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WASHINGTON– U.S. Capitol Police converged Wednesday on a small manned aircraft that has landed on the west front of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Police have taken the pilot into custody.

“The U.S. Capitol Police is investigating a gyro copter with a single occupant that has landed on the grassy area of the West Lawn of t‎he U.S. Capitol. The U.S. Capitol Police continues to investigate with one person detained and temporary street closures in the immediate area,” said Capitol Police Lt. Kimberly Schneider in a statement to CNN.

A reporter from the Tampa Bay Times reports the pilot was a Florida area postal worker seeking to protest campaign finance reform. The paper is reporting it called Secret Service and Capitol Hill police before he flew. The reporter who spoke before the flight has been tweeting from Washington as the postal worker landed.

The Capitol Police, however, have not disclosed his identity. They did say he is in custody for questioning and they’re seeking to find out whether the landing was due to a mechanical issue or some other issue.

According to the FAA, this is restricted airspace and the individual did not get special permission to fly in this airspace. And a U.S, Defense official tells CNN NORAD was not involved. FAA would have contacted them for any military assets to be activated in response to this, and that contact was never made.

The building is no longer in lockdown, and the Senate Sergeant at Arms tells CNN that everything is under control.

At the moment of its landing, however, the Capitol was thrown into chaos.

Outside of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing room, a half-dozen police were running through the hallways, speaking into their radios about a lockdown. In the room waited Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who had stopped by for a photo op and was posing a challenge for officers discussing safe ways to get the prime minister out of the building if necessary.

Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul was on the first floor of the Capitol with aides when the building was briefly locked down, but he hadn’t heard about the incident until CNN asked him. He decided to go outside and see the aircraft for himself, and Capitol Police let him through, despite the lockdown.

By Alexandra Jaffe

CNN’s Rene Marsh Athena Jones, Deirdre Walsh and Jamie Crawford contributed to this report.

 

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