US Congressman Henry Cuellar has been held up at gunpoint in the capital city amid rampant gun-related crime and violence in the country.
Media reports said the incident happened during nighttime at about 21:30 local time (01:30 GMT) on Monday at the intersection of New Jersey and K Street in the city's south-eastern Navy Yard neighborhood, just a few blocks from the US Capitol.
Cuellar was parking his car somewhere about 1.6km from the US Capitol in Washington when he was held up by armed robbers on Monday evening.
The Democratic lawmaker from Texas was reportedly approached by three armed people who held guns to his head and took his car, iPad and phone, sources told ABC News. Cuellar was unharmed in the incident and police later recovered his vehicle.
Cuellar's Chief of Staff, Jacob Hochberg, confirmed the carjacking incident in a statement sent on Monday night to ABC News.
“As Congressman Cuellar was parking his car this evening, 3 armed assailants approached the Congressman and stole his vehicle. Luckily, he was not harmed and is working with local law enforcement. Thank you to Metro PD and Capitol Police for their swift action and for recovering the Congressman’s vehicle,” the statement read.
Detectives were now working to track down the suspects, US Capitol Police said in a statement.
In the meantime, carjacking has been on the rise in the capital in recent years and the local police department has created a task force to deal with the matter.
So far this year there have been 750 incidents of carjacking in the city. Most of the carjacking incidents involved guns.
“It seems like every incident that we're coming across, people are having a gun. Whether it's, you know, whether it's drug-related, whether it's conflict-related, sometimes it's drive-by, sometimes it's road rage, sometimes it's domestic violence, but it seems like everybody is carrying a gun,” SPD Chief Adrian Diaz said during a press conference after a shooting at a hookah lounge in the major northwest US city of Seattle two months ago. “And that is something that we got to figure out how to address.”
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said more Americans died of gun-related injuries in 2021 than in any other year on record.
According to the CDC, in 2021, the most recent year for which complete data is available, 48,830 people died from gun-related injuries in the United States.
CDC data shows guns are now the leading cause of death for children in the United States.
US President Joe Biden has called on Congress to enact federal legislation to address the country’s gun "epidemic".
Biden urged US lawmakers repeatedly to devise stricter laws against guns. “I can’t dictate this stuff.”
However, Republican lawmakers, who are staunch defenders of US arms manufacturers and aim to push gun sales up keep reminding the Americans' constitutional right to bear arms and oppose the Democratic president’s calls for stricter gun regulations.
Meanwhile, a Gallup poll from October 2022 showed that the majority of Americans are in favor of imposing gun controls to curb gun-related violence in the United States.