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U.S. Capitol Police Chief calls officers' actions during riot 'heroic'; DC Mayor calls it a 'failure'

U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said rioters were determined to enter the Capitol building.

WASHINGTON — Rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol grounds in a last-ditch attempt to overturn the 2020 election Wednesday. Following the chaos at the Capitol Building, questions are still left unanswered, and many are left wondering what comes next.

The rioters were met with less aggressive policing than in D.C.'s summer Black Lives Matter protests, a stark contrast to the images of military tanks, rubber bullets, and tear gas.

“I think that we saw different types of vehicles used,” said DC Mayor Muriel Bowser Wednesday, comparing the two events and the differing police response. “We saw a different posture used [by officers] in some cases, such as we did see the use of that military personnel on the ground.”

Mayor Bowser said on Thursday that the U.S. Capitol Police response was "obviously a failure."

Congressman Jim Cooper (D - Tenn.) told WUSA9 he was worried Capitol Police were complicit in allowing the Capitol to be breached.

But U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund painted a different picture of those officers involved in trying to bring order to the Capitol Wednesday.

"United States Capitol Police officers and our law enforcement partners responded valiantly when faced with thousands of individuals involved in violent riotous actions as they stormed the United States Capitol Building," Sund said in a statement released to the media on Thursday.

Sund said rioters attacked Capitol Police with pipes, chemical irritants and other weapons. 

"They were determined to enter into the Capitol Building by causing great damage," Sund said.

Sund did not offer additional details on the shooting death of 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran originally from Maryland, but was living in San Diego. Babbitt was killed in the Capitol building after a plain-clothed Capitol police officer fired one shot at her during an attempt by rioters to enter the House Chambers. 

Sund said that the officer involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of a Metropolitan Police Department investigation.

RELATED: Woman shot, killed inside U.S. Capitol building during riots now identified

Sund also said that two pipe bombs were found, disabled by officers, and turned over to the FBI. 

RELATED: 2 pipe bombs and cooler of Molotov cocktails found near Capitol Building amid Capitol riot, DC Police Chief says

More than 50 USCP and MPD officers sustained injuries during Wednesday's attack on the Capitol, according to Sund. He said several officers have been hospitalized with serious injuries.

"The violent attack on the U.S. Capitol was unlike any I have ever experienced in my 30 years in law enforcement here in Washington, D.C." Sund said. "The actions of the USCP officers were heroic given the situation they faced, and I continue to have tremendous respect in the professionalism and dedication of the women and men of the United States Capitol Police."

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