1,100 Guard Troops Deploy to DC Amid US Capitol Siege by Mob of Protesters

Members of the National Guard arrive to secure the area outside the U.S. Capitol
Members of the National Guard arrive to secure the area outside the U.S. Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

National Guard troops from Washington, D.C., and Virginia have been ordered to the U.S. Capitol amid a siege from pro-Trump protesters that overwhelmed federal police and forced lawmakers and staff to shelter in place.

Shortly before 5 p.m., Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller said that he and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley were consulting with Vice President Mike Pence and House and Senate leaders on how to respond to the situation.

"We have fully activated the D.C. National Guard to assist federal and local law enforcement as they work to peacefully address the situation," Miller said in a statement. "We are prepared to provide additional support as necessary and appropriate as requested by local authorities."

In a Wednesday evening press conference with Washington, D.C. officials, Army Secretary McCarthy said requests had come from U.S. Capitol police to send in more Guard troops. There was a brief delay of about 30 minutes, he said, as Pentagon officials asked questions about what capabilities were needed before approving the request.

"Around 3 o'clock this afternoon, we mobilized the D.C. National Guard at 100% strength," McCarthy said. "We have 1,100 personnel that are convening at the armory as we speak."

He added that the Guard members will support D.C. police and secure "the safety and the confines of the U.S. Capitol." They will also work with other federal agencies in a support role, he said.

Rioters try to break through a police barrier.
Rioters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

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Protests are expected to continue into the night, despite a 6 p.m. curfew announced by Mayor Muriel Bowser.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany confirmed the Guard activations, calling for peace in a statement.

"At President @realDonaldTrump's direction, the National Guard is on the way along with other federal protective services," she tweeted. "We reiterate President Trump's call against violence and to remain peaceful."

Guard troops are also en route from Virginia, according to Gov. Ralph Northam.

"Per [Bowser's] request, I am sending members of the Virginia National Guard along with 200 Virginia State Troopers," Northam, a Democrat, said in a tweet.

Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said later in the evening that he was mobilizing 500 Maryland National Guard members to "help restore law and order." He'll also send 200 Maryland State Police troopers, he said.

Hogan called Wednesday's events and threats against the vice president and members of Congress, who he said were upholding the Constitution by affirming the voters' choice for president, a "heinous and violent assault on the heart of our democracy."

"I never thought I'd see a day like this in America," Hogan said in a Wednesday evening video address. "All Americans should be outraged by this attack on our nation's capital. ... I am not going to stand for this, and neither should any American."

Police with guns drawn watch as protesters try to break into the House Chamber.
Police with guns drawn watch as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Supporters of President Donald Trump invaded the Capitol earlier Wednesday afternoon to interrupt certification of the vote to confirm Joe Biden as the next president. One woman is now in critical condition after getting shot in the chest on the Capitol grounds, CNN reported.

At one point, a protester with fist raised stood at the dais in the evacuated House chamber to shout, "Trump won that election!"

Vice President Mike Pence was rushed to a secure location from the House chamber where he was presiding over what was to have been a debate over the certification of the Electoral College vote reported by the states.

Protesters interact with Capitol Police inside the U.S. Capitol Building.
Protesters interact with Capitol Police inside the U.S. Capitol Building on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

In remarks from Wilmington, Delaware, Biden charged that Trump had "stirred the flames of hate and chaos" with baseless claims that the election was stolen from him.

He said that Trump should go on national TV "and demand an end to this siege."

Shortly after Biden spoke, Trump, in taped remarks released by the White House, told his supporters, "You have to go home now," but reiterated his claims that the election was fraudulent.

"We have to have peace. ... I know you feel," he said to his supporters, who earlier chanted "stop the steal."

However, as he spoke, hundreds of protesters remained in a tense standoff with law enforcement and Capitol Police guarding the West and East Fronts of the Capitol.

In the chaos at the Capitol, it was not immediately clear when Congress will reconvene to certify the Electoral College results.

The sound of flashbang grenades echoed down the Capitol's corridors as protesters strolled unimpeded through the building's statuary hall, several members of Congress from both parties reported via Twitter.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican who's been outspoken about members of his party planning to dispute election results, called Wednesday's actions "a coup attempt." Rep. Elaine Luria, a retired Navy commander and Virginia Democrat, said she had to evacuate her office because a pipe bomb was reported outside.

"Supporters of the President are trying to force their way into the Capitol and I can hear what sounds like multiple gunshots," she tweeted. "I don't recognize our country today and the members of Congress who have supported this anarchy do not deserve to represent their fellow Americans."

About 340 Guard members were already on city streets in Washington to support police after several pro-Trump groups, such as the Proud Boys, pledged to protest Wednesday.

-- Matthew Cox contributed to this report.

This story will be updated.

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