Timeline of evacuation incident in Washington, DC 8/2/23

Hi all!

On Wednesday, August 2, 2023, Laura Boll, Zita Angelo, Anika Hurst,
Galen Fitzkee, Laura Pauls-Thomas, and Livy (last name?) from MCC’s DC
office went to the Russell Senate Office building to advocate for positive action on climate
change with our Senators and Congress Representatives.

After a well-organized period of study and preparation with the MCC
staffers, we decided which particular aspect of climate change we’d
each like to present to the staff of the Congresspeople, and we walked
over to the Russell Senate Office Building, which was about 20 minutes

Entrance to the building was extremely secure, with the same screening
measures used to enter an airport, and multiple security officers
screening people, so we felt very confident in our level of safety in
the building.

We had our first meeting with Senator Fetterman’s staff on the first
floor at 2:00, which went really well, and we wrapped up there by
about 2:15. After that, we walked out to relax for a little while in
the interior courtyard, and then just after 2:30, we went back into
the building and took the elevator to the third floor for our
next meeting, which was scheduled for 2:45.

The first two pictures (the ornate staircase and our group walking
down the stately hallway) were both taken at 2:37 pm as we walked
our next meeting with Senator Casey’s staff. We heard a lot of yelling
both as we passed the staircase and as we walked down the hallway. It
sounded like a lot of men’s or young people’s voices saying things
with a lot of energy,
but it didn’t sound threatening to us, and we couldn’t make out
anything specific that was being said/shouted. I remember thinking
that it
seemed really out of place in such a distinguished building for there
to be so much yelling. I seriously thought there might have been some
kids running amok in the staircase, because it sounded so raucous, and
I couldn’t imagine what could possibly be going on. Others in our
group were trying to figure out what all that
yelling could possibly be about, especially in such an otherwise
quiet, stoic setting. We were convinced that there must have been a
gymnasium at the end of the hallway, and that men were playing
basketball and yelling enthusiastically. We even asked each other if
it sounded like happy or angry yelling, and we told ourselves that it
sounded happy.

As soon as we arrived at Senator Casey’s office door, the staffers
immediately told us to get inside and to gather (along with the 5 or
so staffers) in a closet at the back of the room, as they pulled
together supplies they’d need when we would be
able to evacuate the building. We had no idea what was happening, but
it felt really concerning. The first thing I did was to silence my
phone, and then I sent this text to my husband, Wayne: “We’re on
lockdown in the Russell Office Building. This is no joke. Please
pray.” That was at 2:40 pm.

We were only in the closet for about 3 minutes when we heard a knock
on the door, and we heard “Police!”. I wondered if we should believe
that it was actually the police, but the staffers immediately opened the
door, and the officers directed us to put our hands up and RUN out of
the building, and to keep our hands up. Talk about hearts pounding! As
we ran down the hallway and down two flights of stairs, dozens of
officers ran UP the stairs armed to the teeth with rifles and other

As we exited the building, officers were asking each person “Did you
hear any gun shots?” to which everybody answered “No”, and they kept
us moving out of the building, watching us closely, and making really
fast evaluations as to whether any of us might pose a threat to
others, by doing things such as very quickly grabbing/pinching the
large bag I had on my shoulder to ascertain if I might be carrying a
weapon in it. What a stressful job the officers have, to make
split-second decisions like that, that could affect so many people’s

We were directed to keep on moving after we’d left the Senate Office
Building, and we ended up standing on the sidewalk about 2 blocks
away, right in front of the Capitol Building. It all seemed to
surreal! As soon as we were able to stop (and put our hands down!), I
sent this text to Wayne: “We were evacuated as dozens of officers
rushed in. We’re OK.” That was at 2:45, so everything had unfolded
VERY fast.

We were standing in place for quite a while, not sure what to do next.
We stayed there for a good 20-25 minutes, just trying to figure out
what to do, and we weren’t sure if we’d receive any further
instruction from the authorities, so we just stayed there and chatted
with each other, trying to digest what had just happened, and getting
ourselves calmed down from the sudden evacuation.

The third picture (with the Capitol in the background) was taken  at
3:07 pm. Everyone had already been calling and texting loved ones with
updates. It was a fast turn of
events, and very harrowing. At that point, after surveying the group,
we decided not to try to keep our two additional meetings that day,
and we walked back to the MCC office, where we debriefed and tried to
process everything that had happened. In spite of the negative
excitement of the evacuation, I would definitely like to be part of
such a delegation again. I like the concept of trying to be part of
the solution to challenging matters. I’m so grateful that everyone was
OK, and that it all seemed to be a false alarm about an active
shooter. Here’s the official version of events:

Thank you all for your prayers that day! Zita Angelo