House office building locked down after report of gunfire



WASHINGTON -- Police locked down a House of Representatives office building for nearly five hours yesterday as they investigated reports of gunfire in an underground parking garage.

In the end, police concluded that the sound had come from a jackhammer or some other piece of equipment being used to perform routine maintenance in an elevator shaft in the Rayburn House Office Building.

Until police sorted out the matter, some members of Congress and their staffs found themselves trapped in their offices, forbidden to leave. Those who were out of their offices when the gunfire was reported were not allowed in.

Capitol police sent an e-mail to all House offices ordering everyone in the Rayburn Building to "quickly move into the nearest interior office space or interior hallway and away from windows." In a later e-mail, police said they would search the gigantic building office by office.

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