Casey a witness to shooting outside Capitol

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., speaks during a news conference at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, as the government teeters on the brink of a partial shutdown beginning at midnight unless Congress can reach an agreement on funding. A conservative challenge to President Barack Obama's health care law threatens to push the federal government to the brink of a partial shutdown Monday, with the Senate expected to convene just hours before a deadline to pass a temporary spending bill. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., speaks during a news conference at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, as the government teeters on the brink of a partial shutdown beginning at midnight unless Congress can reach an agreement on funding. A conservative challenge to President Barack Obama's health care law threatens to push the federal government to the brink of a partial shutdown Monday, with the Senate expected to convene just hours before a deadline to pass a temporary spending bill. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Posted: October 05, 2013

Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) was outside the U.S. Capitol on Thursday when the day's dramatic events unfolded before him.

First there was a car chase, which he initially thought was a motorcade. Then there were gunshots - "three or four pops," Casey said.

Outside the Dirksen Senate Office building, about a block and a half from where he was standing, he saw two people "just hit the deck."

Casey had just left a lunch for Senate Democrats when the incident spilled onto Constitution Avenue, on the north side of the Capitol. He was walking to nearby Senate offices with two colleagues, Sens. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) and Jeff Merkley (D., Ore.).

It was not his usual route. Like many people at the Capitol, Casey usually travels via underground tunnels that link the buildings.

When it became clear that there was something wrong, the three senators turned to walk back to the Capitol. Security officers ordered them and nearby tourists to crouch behind parked cars.

"These weren't suggestions," Casey said. "They were loud directives, and they had their weapons drawn."

Initially, Casey thought that people at the Capitol might be targets of an attack. But after several minutes, he and the other senators jogged back to the Capitol, which by then had been secured.

It was Brown who had suggested the walk.

"Turns out," Casey said, "it wasn't the best time to be outside."


jtamari@phillynews.com

@JonathanTamari

www.inquirer.com/capitolinq

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