An unmarked police vehicle was torched Wednesday afternoon next to the Supreme Court in Washington D.C., and a badly burned suspect was taken to the hospital.
A man poured an accelerant over an unmarked Supreme Court police vehicle which was parked on Maryland Avenue near First Street Northeast and set fire to it, according to Kathleen Arberg, a representative for the high court.
A congressional staffer, who was having a lunch break on the lawn of the Capitol with friends, saw the fire and response, recounted hearing a series of loud bangs and saw flames licking the underside of the car before it was engulfed by the fire.
“A second later, the whole thing was literally a fireball,” the staffer informed CQ Roll Call. The staffer preferred not to be identified by name but was one of those who published videos and photos of the incident on social media.
Witnesses started sharing videos on Twitter at around 1:50 p.m. Eastern time, and Hill staffers got by email an initial Capitol Police alert to avoid the location at 2 p.m.
Witnesses said that while the response from police and fire officials was quick, they were still displeased as the car burned and explosive bangs rang out before Capitol Police and Supreme Court Police were on the scene.
“It was on fire and periodically exploding to the point where we got a little nervous,” the congressional staffer stated.
The staffer thought about getting out of the location, but ended up staying closeby in case providing statements would help.
Explosions continued as firefighters worked to deal with the blaze. An adjacent car, also belonging to the Supreme Court Police, experienced damage as well, in addition to the initial car, which was entirely burned.
Supreme Court Police took witness statements from a number of people near the scene, including a woman who stated she observed a man drop something through the car window and then take off running. Other witnesses stated they were not sure if the man who ran was running because he was associated with the incident or out of fear.
“The individual suffered burns in the process. He was taken into custody by Supreme Court Police and was transported by ambulance for treatment of his injuries,” Arberg said.
The staffer recalled that he clearly heard the Supreme Court Police say there was a man on the ground, brutally burned, who they thought had poured gasoline on the car and then set it on fire.