Pro-Trump protesters breached the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon as Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers in both chambers were set to count votes from the Electoral College and likely solidify Joe Biden’s election victory.
According to reports, throngs of Trump supporters pushed through barriers established along the perimeter of the U.S. Capitol causing a suspension in the electoral vote count and a lockdown in the Capitol.
The Washington Post reports that some of the protesters slipped past Capitol Hill Police and entered the building where the important vote count was taking place.
Inside the Capitol, there was a standoff between police and protesters. One person was confirmed shot inside the Capitol, paramedics told local media.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, D-Calif., confirmed in an interview with Fox News that shots had been fired inside the building. The situation surrounding the shooting is not immediately clear.
NBC News cited several law enforcement officials to report that the person who was shot in the Capitol has died.
Video posted online shows scenes in which protesters outside clashed with police, with each side spraying each other with what appears to be pepper spray.
President Donald Trump, who has maintained that targeted voter fraud compromised the 2020 election results and furthered the idea that the election was stolen from him, took to Twitter just after 2:30 p.m. to urge supporters to “support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement.”
“They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!” the president tweeted.
Just after 3 p.m., Trump again urged supporters at the Capitol to stay peaceful.
“I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order — respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue,” he wrote.
According to CNN, hundreds of protesters pushed past the barriers surrounding the U.S. Capitol after 1 p.m., where they clashed with officers. About an hour-and-a-half later, some protesters made it into the Capitol building.
Shortly after, the doors to the House and Senate chambers were locked and the House floor was eventually evacuated.
Local radio news outlet WTOP reports that members of Congress inside the House chamber were told by police to wear gas masks after tear gas was dispersed in the Capitol Rotunda.
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a curfew of 6 p.m. Wednesday through 6 a.m. Thursday.
“During the hours of the curfew, no person, other than persons designated by the Mayor, shall walk, bike, run, loiter, stand, or motor by car or other mode of transport upon any street, alley, park, or other public place within the District,” the mayor’s office announced in a statement.
Although Trump had called for protesters to remain peaceful, congressional leaders called on the president to be more forceful in calling on protesters to leave the Capitol grounds.
"We are calling on President Trump to demand that all protesters leave the U.S. Capitol and Capitol Grounds immediately,” the top Democrats in the House and Senate said in a joint statement shared by The Washington Post.
Later in the afternoon, Trump issued a video on Twitter calling for supporters "to go home in peace." Again repeating claims for voter fraud, Trump told supporters he knows how they feel and again stressed that the election was "stolen from us."
"But we can’t play into the hands of these people," Trump said. "We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You are very special."
Vice President Mike Pence took to Twitter Wednesday afternoon to call on the violence at the Capitol to stop.
"The violence and destruction taking place at the US Capitol Must Stop and it Must Stop Now. Anyone involved must respect Law Enforcement officers and immediately leave the building," he tweeted. "Peaceful protest is the right of every American but this attack on our Capitol will not be tolerated and those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
Even though Trump has asserted that voter fraud compromised the election, all 50 states have certified the results of the elections in their states.
Earlier in the day, Trump spoke at a “Stop the Steal” rally in D.C. attended by thousands of supporters in which he repeated claims of voter fraud. After the rally, supporters made their way to the Capitol grounds as part of a “Save America March.”
Some Capitol Hill Police officers were reportedly injured in the clashes with demonstrators and evacuated.
White House Press Secretary Kaleigh McEnany tweeted just after 3:30 p.m. that at Trump’s discretion, the National Guard has been deployed along with other federal protective services.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said on Twitter that he will send members of the Virginia National Guard as well as 200 Virginia State Troopers to assist in the chaos at the U.S. Capitol.
In addition to the citywide curfew, the city's transit system, Metro, will shut down early due to the curfew.
Jack Graham, a Southern Baptist megachurch pastor from Plano, Texas, who has been a supporter of the president, condemned the violence taking place in Washington.
"Violence at our nation’s capital is to be condemned and law and order must prevail. Pray for our country. This is heartbreaking," Graham wrote in a tweet.
Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, senior officials with the Jewish human rights organization Simon Wiesenthal Center, also denounced the violence in the nation's capital.
“The right to protest is sacrosanct in American life. But the very values and rights bestowed by our democracy are degraded and diminished when police officers have to draw their guns to protect our duly elected officials in heart of our nation by violent protesters who, by their reckless and dangerous behavior have inflicted grievous wounds on our nation," a joint statement reads.
"Nothing, not even the emotional charges of voter fraud in a presidential election, can ever legitimize or excuse such behavior. For as the Talmud warns, ‘Pray for the welfare of the government, for without … it man would swallow his fellow.’ Today is a dark day for America.”