Congress

Gyrocopter Lands Outside Capitol, Pilot Arrested

The tense incident occurred not far from where a man committed suicide Saturday.

A gyrocopter landed on the U.S. Capitol South Lawn area on April 15, 2015, in Washington, D.C. 
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
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Rachel Roubein
April 15, 2015, 10:24 a.m.

A gyro­copter landed on the west lawn out­side the Cap­it­ol early Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon, prompt­ing a se­cur­ity scare and the ar­rest of the air­craft’s pi­lot.

The Cap­it­ol Po­lice said in a state­ment that one per­son had been de­tained and the streets in the area were tem­por­ar­ily closed. A ro­bot has been de­ployed to check wheth­er the air­craft con­tains any bombs.

The copter landed on the same side of the Cap­it­ol where an Illinois man com­mit­ted sui­cide Sat­urday, shock­ing a group of tour­ists and vis­it­ors on a busy Spring day.

The Cap­it­ol Po­lice have not iden­ti­fied the copter’s pi­lot. But the Tampa Bay Times re­por­ted that Doug Hughes, the 61-year-old mail­man from Ruskin, Fla., had spoken openly of his plan to land a chop­per on the Cap­it­ol lawn as a protest against cor­rup­tion and lax cam­paign fin­ance laws. The pa­per said Hughes planned to bring let­ters for all 535 mem­bers of Con­gress de­mand­ing “real re­form.”

Nora Neus, a stu­dent at the Uni­versity of Vir­gin­ia, was stand­ing near the West Front lawn when the in­cid­ent oc­curred. She said the copter bounced once and landed on the ground. Po­lice swarmed the area, she said, and “they star­ted yelling don’t move, don’t move” to the man.

Neus was on the phone with her fath­er at the time un­til po­lice told her to run away.

Cap­it­ol Po­lice cleared the area be­fore 4 p.m. and re-opened the sur­round­ing streets that had been closed.

This art­icle has been up­dated.

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