Arrest after ‘pressure cooker’ detonated in car near Capitol building

The suspicious object was detonated in the car
The suspicious object was detonated in the car

A US bomb squad has destroyed a pressure cooker found in a "suspicious" vehicle which was parked on the National Mall near the US Capitol building in Washington.

The vehicle's owner has been found and arrested, US Capitol police Lt Kimberly Schneider said.

Officers on a routine patrol spotted the parked, unoccupied vehicle on a street west of the Capitol at about 5pm on Sunday afternoon.

Lt Schneider said: "Further investigation revealed a pressure cooker, and an odour of gasoline was detected."

She said that the bomb squad was called in because the vehicle was "suspicious in nature".

The Hazardous Devices Section destroyed "items of concern in the vehicle including the pressure cooker" at about 7.45pm after temporarily closing off the area on a busy holiday weekend.

She did not identify the other items discovered, saying only that "this safe disruption produced a loud bang".

Lt Schneider added that follow-up searches of the vehicle detected "nothing hazardous".

Authorities had set up a security perimeter around the site on 3rd Street in the US capital, leaving it closed temporarily between Independence Avenue and Constitution Avenue while authorities investigated.

It is unclear how many people were in the area at the time.

After the suspicious items were destroyed, police conducted a thorough "hand search" of the vehicle and concluded their investigation by about 8.20pm "with negative results and nothing hazardous found".

The vehicle's owner was identified as Israel Shimeles of the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia.

Shimeles was arrested by Capitol police and charged with "operating after revocation".

Police would not elaborate on the charge.