WASHINGTON - Capitol Hill was evacuated Wednesday evening after a scare was caused by parachutists from the Army Golden Knights jumping into Nationals Park.
The Army parachutists flew into restricted airspace, causing the Capitol Police to issue the initial alert, which cited an "aircraft that poses a probable threat," at about 6:30 p.m.
Less than 30 minutes later, Capitol Police issued an all-clear and said the evacuation was out of an "abundance of caution.
The Associated Press confirmed that the De Havilland Twin Otter aircraft triggered the alarm after entering the exclusion zone around the U.S. Capitol after dropping off members of the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights, who parachuted into the Washington Nationals' baseball stadium for a pregame demonstration.
Nationals Park is in Navy Yard, a little more than a mile away from the U.S. Capitol.
The aircraft reportedly took off from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, according to two people familiar with the matter. The people said the aircraft did not report taking off and did not have the appropriate clearance. The people were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
U.S. Capitol Police released this statement on the incident: "The United States Capitol Police must make split-second decisions that could make the difference between life and death. The decision to evacuate the campus is not one we take lightly."
In a statement, Kelli LeGaspi, spokeswoman for United States Army Recruiting Command tells FOX 5: "After an initial review of the pre-planning and coordination for the U.S. Army Golden Knights flight and parachute demonstration that took place during the Military Appreciation Night event at the Washington Nationals baseball game in Washington, D.C., April 20, we have confirmed that the parachute team filed all appropriate and required Federal Aviation Administration documentation and received FAA approval prior to operating within the National Capitol Region’s airspace. The team also confirmed the pilots established and maintained communication with the FAA prior to and throughout the operation."
The FAA issued the following statement to FOX 5 regarding the incident: "The FAA takes its role in protecting the national airspace seriously and will conduct a thorough and expeditious review of the events this evening and share updates. We know our actions affect others, especially in our nation's capital region, and we must communicate early and often with our law enforcement partners."
FOX News and the Associated Press contributed to this report.