- By John Reed
John Reed is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He comes to FP after editing Military.com’s publication Defense Tech and working as the associate editor of DoDBuzz. Between 2007 and 2010, he covered major trends in military aviation and the defense industry around the world for Defense News and Inside the Air Force. Before moving to Washington in August 2007, Reed worked in corporate sales and business development for a Swedish IT firm, The Meltwater Group in Mountain View CA, and Philadelphia, PA. Prior to that, he worked as a reporter at the Tracy Press and the Scotts Valley Press-Banner newspapers in California. His first story as a professional reporter involved chasing escaped emus around California’s central valley with Mexican cowboys armed with lassos and local police armed with shotguns. Luckily for the giant birds, the cowboys caught them first and the emus were ok. A New England native, Reed graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a dual degree in international affairs and history.
The U.S. Capitol complex is no stranger to violence. The latest evidence of that came on Thursday afternoon, when a woman was shot after leading police on a car chase from the White House to the Capitol. But the car chase and shooting wasn’t an isolated incident. There have been at least five shootings and bombings on the Capitol grounds since the early 1970s.
The most recent was in September 2010, when Capitol Hill police shot and wounded a man who was reportedly in the area. The officers were reportedly told to be on the lookout for a gunman. They shot him after he pointed his weapon toward them, and refused to drop the gun.
In July 1998, a mentally ill man named Russell Eugene Weston killed two Capitol Hill police officers, John Gibson and Jacob Chestnut, who were manning a metal detector at an entrance to the Capitol building. Weston opened fire and killed Chestnut. He then fled into a nearby office, where he and Gibson traded shots in a battle that mortally wounded Gibson and injured Weston. A tourist and another police officer were wounded in the incident.
In November 1983, a bomb placed under a bench exploded inside the Senate side of the Capitol building. It detonated at night, so there were no casualties — other than a painting of Daniel Webster. Six radical leftists were arrested and charged with the bombing, and two similar attacks at Fort Lesley McNair and the Washington Navy Yard.
Twelve years earlier, a bomb placed by the leftist group the Weather Underground destroyed a restroom on the Senate side of the Capitol. The bomb was apparently placed to protest U.S. military action in Laos. No one was killed or injured.
Four Puerto Rican nationalists opened fire from the visitors gallery inside the House of Representatives chamber in March 1954, wounding five representatives as they debated an immigration bill.
Former U.S Representative William Taulbee from Kentucky was shot and killed in 1890 inside the House side of the Capitol by newspaper reporter Charles Kincaid. Taulbee had left Congress to become a lobbyist after Kincaid revealed the lawmaker had been having an affair in an article titled, "Kentucky’s Silver-Tongued Taulbee Caught in Flagrante, or Thereabouts, with Brown-Haired Miss Dodge." Taulbee reportedly insulted and harassed Kincaid in the years following the article, going so far as to pull on his nose or ears whenever they passed each other. Kincaid eventually grew tired of such behavior and shot Taulbee on Feb. 28. The ex-congressman died 11 days later while Kincaid was acquitted of the crime. Capitol Hill legend says you can still see the stain from Taulbee’s blood on the marble steps where he was shot.