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.