I recalled with ease the names of Russell Weston Jr. and Miriam Carey – knew them by heart.
I had to look up Michael Gorbey, Kellen Anthony White, Carlos Greene, Larry Russell Dawson and Noah Green.
After a while, the names blend together.
These are some of the names of those who have perpetrated a series of security incursions at the Capitol in recent years. I’ve covered or witnessed so many of these episodes that it’s hard to keep it all straight.
Which brings me to Floyd Ray Roseberry.
Roseberry drove his black pickup truck late last week onto a sidewalk between the U.S. Capitol and the Library of Congress. Everyone justifiably freaked out after the riot on Jan. 6. But the most enduring legacy of Roseberry is that it’s just another entry on the roll call of security incidents on Capitol Hill.
Roseberry’s parking job reveals how frequently these episodes happen. And, how casual everyone is after they dissipate.
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It also portends that yet another security episode is likely a short time away.
Will I recall Roseberry’s name after a while? I have no clue.
Nobody died. Police didn’t shoot him. Roseberry just frayed a lot of nerves for several hours on Capitol Hill. Roseberry aired some of his political outrages on social media – calling out President Biden and speaking about a “revolution.” Roseberry told police he had a bomb. Authorities locked down portions of the Capitol complex for five hours as they negotiated with Roseberry before he finally surrendered.
The U.S. Capitol is a target, and always will be. The government finally determined that the fourth plane, hijacked on 9/11 and crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, was ultimately bound for the Capitol. We know what happened on Jan. 6. People with bad intentions come to the Capitol all the time.
And yet, despite how calamitous these episodes seem at the time, they are often forgotten quickly.
Memories are short. But Jan. 6 will amplify any security episode that unfolds in its immediate shadow.
I had worked for several years in Washington in the mid-1990s before I even learned of the Nov. 7, 1983, bombing of the Senate. The radical “Resistance Conspiracy” detonated a bomb just outside the Senate chamber to protest U.S. involvement in Grenada and Lebanon.
Russell Weston Jr., a disturbed man who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, shot and killed two Capitol Police officers when he barged into the Capitol in July 1998. U.S. Capitol Police Detective John Gibson shot Weston, who survived. But Weston had already shot Gibson and Officer Jacob Chestnut. Both died. Weston had stopped taking antipsychotic medication. A judge ruled Weston not competent to stand trial.
In September 2006, two dozen Capitol Police officers chased Carlos Greene into the Capitol after he drove a Chevy Trailblazer into a construction area as workers built the underground, Capitol Visitor Center. Greene had a record of gun offenses and was said to be on drugs. Greene rushed through an unguarded door and ran into the basement of the Capitol. A congressional employee who worked in the flag office – where constituents write to ask their lawmakers to fly a flag atop the Capitol to honor a friend or loved one – finally tackled Greene after he breached the building.
The name of the flag office employee is probably a name we should remember, but don’t.
In the winter of 2008, Michael Gorbey parked a pickup truck near the Russell Senate Office Building, packed with explosive devices. He grabbed his 12-gauge shotgun, hoisted a three-foot sword on his back and donned a bulletproof vest. Gorbey then set off on foot across Capitol Hill, toward the Supreme Court. A Capitol Police officer intercepted Gorbey, who insisted he had an appointment with Chief Justice John Roberts.
Gorbey got 22 years in prison.
U.S. Capitol Police shot and killed Kellen Anthony White just outside the Capitol after he fled a traffic stop near Union Station in July 2009. Police say that after they attempted to stop White, he sped the wrong way down Louisiana Avenue NW. During the pursuit, White clipped another officer involved with an additional traffic stop. After a short chase, police say White then grabbed a handgun. Police shot and killed White by the Capitol after he refused to drop the weapon.
Police killed Miriam Carey in October 2013 after she drove wildly past a White House checkpoint and struck a Secret Service agent. Carey then sped to the Capitol, at times hitting 80 mph and blowing through traffic lights. Carey then did circuits around traffic circles in front of the Capitol as officers tried to box her in with guns drawn. Carey threw her car intro reverse and sped up Constitution Avenue NW, on the Senate side of the Capitol. Only after a Secret Service agent and a Capitol Police officer fired shots into Carey’s vehicle did the chase end near the Hart Senate Office Building. Carey died. Carey’s baby was in the back seat of the car, unbeknown to officers. The baby wasn’t injured.
In March 2016, Larry Russell Dawson drew what turned out to be a fake Beretta on officers when he went through a security checkpoint of the Capitol Visitor Center. Police fired on Dawson, wounding him. Capitol Police had arrested Dawson the year before when he interrupted a House session, screaming from the public gallery about abortion and claiming to be a “prophet of God.”
Noah Green rammed a Senate barricade, killing Capitol Police Officer Billy Evans on April 2 of this year. Green leaped from his vehicle with a knife before officers shot and killed him. Green had previously expressed support for the Nation of Islam and held other extremist views.
And so now we have Roseberry.
At his court appearance late last week, Roseberry said he hadn’t taken his “mind medicines.”
Roseberry’s incident ended far more peacefully than some of the other episodes detailed here. Capitol Police officers didn’t die. No one was shot. Roseberry wasn’t injured. That means his name and criminal charges may soon dissolve into the congressional ether.
Until there’s another incident to sort out and everyone focuses on that.
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People may not remember Roseberry’s name. But they will likely recall the episode. That’s mainly because it happened so soon after the January riot. Most people don’t remember the name of Noah Green. But they know someone rammed the north Senate barricade and plowed over two police officers, killing Officer Billy Evans. That was the first security incursion at the Capitol after 1/6. That likely forged an indelible impression in the minds of many who live and work on Capitol Hill.
But the names? Time doesn’t do that part of the story any favors. Nor the frequency of such incidents. There will likely be another security incident at the Capitol sometime soon. It’s just the way things unfold at America’s citadel of democracy.
We don’t remember many of the names. And this happens so often, it’s hard to even recall all of the incidents.