Four people have been confirmed dead by police after hundreds of Donald Trump supporters were cleared from the Capitol.
A huge crowd violently stormed the government building on Wednesday as Congress met to certify the results of the general election.
Washington, DC, police chief Robert Contee said the dead included a woman who was shot by the US Capitol Police, as well as three others who died in “medical emergencies.”
Two pipe bombs were recovered from the building and several people were arrested on firearms charges.
Office buildings were evacuated, members of Congress took shelter and the heart of US democracy went on lockdown as Trump-supporting rioters clashed with police.
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How it started
Trump addressed thousands of supporters at a rally near the White House before chaos ensued, promising to “never concede” that he had lost before Congress met on Wednesday to certify Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win.
“We will never give up,” Trump earlier told thousands of cheering supporters on a grassy expanse near the White House. “We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”
After Trump egged them on to march to Capitol Hill, supporters breached barricades and fought past police to storm into the building, forcing Congress to halt the voter certification process.
As rioters shouted and waved Trump and American flags while marching through the halls, people inside the building were directed to duck under their seats for cover and put on gas masks after tear gas was used in the Capitol Rotunda.
One woman was killed, police said, after the mob tried to break through a barricaded door where police were armed on the other side. She was hospitalised with a gunshot wound and later died.
Three other people died of unspecified “medical emergencies”. Both law enforcement and Trump supporters deployed chemical irritants during the hourslong occupation.
At one stage, police told politicians in the House of Representatives chamber to take gas masks from beneath their seats and ordered them to drop to the floor for their safety. Officers drew their guns as someone tried to enter the House chamber. Police piled furniture against the doors of the House chamber as protesters tried to break them down.
What Trump said
As pressure mounted on Trump to condemn supporters, he tweeted: “I am asking for everyone at the US 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. Thank you!”
He later posted a video on Twitter asking his supporters to “go home”, but claiming the results of the election were fraudulent and he feels their “pain”.
Twitter later removed the video “due to a risk of violence”. Trump’s video was viewed more than 10 million times in less than an hour.
But Trump continued to provoke, later tweeting: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”
Twitter then locked Trump’s account for the first time and demanded he remove tweets excusing violence as it threatened him with “permanent suspension” from the platform.
What law enforcement did
The Department of Homeland Security said additional federal agents were sent to the Capitol to help quell violence, with officers from the Federal Protective Service and US Secret Service to assist US Capitol Police.
The White House said National Guard troops also headed to the Capitol.
At 5.30pm (10.30pm UK time), officials declared the Capitol complex “secure” after heavily armed police moved to end a nearly four-hour violent occupation.
An announcement saying “the Capitol is secure” rang out on Wednesday evening inside a secure location for officials of the House of Representatives.
Police officials said two pipe bombs were recovered from the grounds, as well as a cool box from a vehicle that contained a long gun and Molotov cocktail.
Fifty-two people were arrested on Wednesday, 47 of them in relation to the city-wide 6pm curfew. Twenty-six of those involved people arrested on Capitol grounds.
Several others were arrested on charges related to carrying unlicensed or prohibited firearms.
Contee declined to identify the woman a Capitol Police officer shot and killed, saying next of kin notification was still pending.
Fourteen police officers were injured, with two remaining in hospital.
While the number of people arrested is expected to grow, the initial number pales in comparison to the more than 300 people who were arrested by police following the June 1 protests in the district related to the police killing of George Floyd.
What Biden said
Addressing the nation, the president-elect said that democracy is “under an unprecedented assault” and demanded that Trump make a televised address calling on his supporters to cease the violence.
The former vice president said that for demonstrators to storm the Capitol, smash windows, occupy offices, invade Congress and threaten the safety of duly elected officials: “It’s not a protest, it’s insurrection.”
He urged Trump to demand “an end to this siege” on national television.
What others said
Former Republican president George W Bush condemned the rioting and said he was appalled by the “reckless behaviour of some political leaders since the election”.
“It is a sickening and heartbreaking sight,” Bush said in a statement. “This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic – not our democratic republic.”
British prime minister Boris Johnson condemned the “disgraceful scenes”, adding: “The United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.”
His comments came after British politicians from all parties described the scenes in Washington as “profoundly shocking” and “utterly horrifying”.
Reacting on Twitter, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer wrote: “Horrendous scenes from the US.
“These are not ‘protesters’ – this a direct attack on democracy and legislators carrying out the will of the American people.”
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “The US rightly takes great pride in its democracy, and there can be no justification for these violent attempts to frustrate the lawful and proper transition of power.”
What Congress did next
US politicians reconvened shortly after 8pm (1am GMT on Thursday) to resume the election certification.
“To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today – you did not win,” vice president Mike Pence said as the session resumed. “Let’s get back to work,” he said, drawing applause.
“We will certify the winner of the 2020 election,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell added, calling the assault by Trump supporters a “failed insurrection”.