Stunning Images as a Mob Storms the U.S. Capitol

Rioters scaling the U.S. Capitol, marching with Confederate flags and riot gear.

Lawmakers scurrying off the floor of the Senate, ducking for safety.

Capitol Police officers standing near a barricaded door with guns drawn, guarding the House chamber.

These are among the stunning images from a historic day on which a mob of people loyal to President Trump broke into the Capitol to try to prevent lawmakers from certifying the Electoral College count to confirm President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s victory.

The chaos, which lasted more than three hours and was viewed around the globe, was another reminder of the challenges Mr. Biden will inherit in two weeks: an extraordinarily divided country, an American political fabric frayed by an economic crisis, a global pandemic and four years of Mr. Trump’s governance.

Just after 2 p.m., the gathering turned violent and chaotic as Trump supporters swarmed the Capitol, breaking through metal gates that had been placed around the building. They then scaled the outside of the Capitol and broke through the front doors.

Some wore riot helmets and military-style protective vests. Many took selfies as they broke into the home of American democracy and proudly shared the images on social media.

Lawmakers from both parties denounced the break-in as they themselves huddled for safety.

For a time, senators and members of the House were locked inside their respective chambers. Security officials instructed members there to reach under their seats and put on gas masks after tear gas was used in the Capitol Rotunda.

As they hid, some lawmakers pleaded for Mr. Trump to tell his supporters to retreat.

Representative Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee, yelled out to Republicans on the House floor: “Call Trump, tell him to call off his revolutionary guards.”

Guns were drawn as protesters tried breaking into the House chamber where just moments earlier lawmakers were going through the usually uneventful business of certifying the presidential election winner.

One woman was fatally shot inside the Capitol, police officials said. She was not identified, and no information was released about who might have shot her.

Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington announced a curfew for the city beginning at 6 p.m. Chief Robert J. Contee III of the Metropolitan Police Department said, “It was clear the crowd was intent on causing harm to our officers by deploying chemical irritants on police to force entry into the United States Capitol building.”

The chaos on Wednesday was not spontaneous, but rather came after a monthslong effort to delegitimize the election and a yearslong crusade by Mr. Trump to undermine any opposition.

It took the police more than three hours to retake control of the Capitol. They used riot gear, batons and shields to force back the intruders.

As lawmakers hid for safety and the police sought to establish control, rioters roamed the halls.

They eventually broke into the Senate chamber. Some gleefully posed for pictures in the seats and offices of the lawmakers they had just chased away.

The office of Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat who as House speaker has led political opposition to Mr. Trump’s agenda, was also broken into.

The rioters, who said they were trying to protect democracy, at times appeared cheerful about their ability to wander freely inside the Capitol.

Around 5:40 p.m., security officials at the Capitol announced that the building was secure. Twenty minutes later, the city’s 6 p.m. curfew went into effect.

The police seized five guns and arrested at least 13 people during the violent protest, Chief Contee said.

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