Staffers and lawmakers flee the building at the heart of the US government as a plane and parachutists at a baseball game spark security scare.

Military plane dropping parachutists into a Washington baseball game sparks security alarm at US Capitol.
Military plane dropping parachutists into a Washington baseball game sparks security alarm at US Capitol. (Reuters)

The United States Capitol building has been briefly evacuated after a false alarm saw police tracking an aircraft that they said was a "probable threat" but turned out to be no danger.

The initial statement on Wednesday said police tasked with protecting the complex at the heart of the US government in Washington had ordered it be evacuated as they were "tracking an aircraft that poses a probable threat."

But police swiftly issued a second statement to say the order had been given "out of an abundance of caution" and that there was "no threat" to the complex.

"The aircraft no longer poses a threat to the Capitol Complex and the USCP is now preparing buildings for reentry," said the update from the US Capitol police.

The District of Columbia Police later said the plane turned out to be a military aircraft carrying members of the US Army's Golden Knights parachute demonstration team.

The Golden Knights then parachuted into the Washington Nationals' baseball stadium, Nationals Park, a little over a mile away from the US Capitol.

The aircraft, a single-engine plane, was reported to be circling around Washington after taking off from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, CNN reported. NBC News added that the Capitol Police did not know that the parachutists would be in the airspace.

The news became a top headline within minutes in the United States, where the memories of the September 11, 2001 attacks –– which saw Al Qaeda fly passenger jets into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington –– are still poignant.

Neither the House of Representatives nor the Senate, the chambers of Congress that are located in the Capitol, were in session at the time of the scare.

The US Capitol was the focal point of an actual violent attack just 15 months ago, on January 6, 2021, when supporters of then-president Donald Trump stormed the building in an effort to stop the certification of Joe Biden's presidential election victory.

Shaken by warning 

Despite Wednesday's scare being a false alarm, lawmakers and visitors were shaken by the warning.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blamed the Federal Aviation Administration in a statement on Wednesday night, saying its "apparent failure to notify Capitol Police of the pre-planned flyover Nationals Stadium is outrageous and inexcusable." The FAA did not respond to a request for comment.

"We just went through a very stressful 15 minutes, but we are thankful that everyone is safe," congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernandez said on Twitter.

Two young Swiss tourists visiting Washington said they were walking towards the historic white-domed Capitol to take a tour when police waved them away from the structure.

"They shut the security barriers behind us. They didn't tell us why and I thought it was better not to ask," said one of the tourists, who asked not to be named.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies