US Capitol police have apprehended an “aggressive” suspect accused of attacking a congressman and perhaps others. The alleged assailant: an unusually bold fox.
Earlier in the day, police had warned of fox encounters in the area and said they were working to trap and relocate any animals.
“For your safety, please do not approach any foxes,” police tweeted.
A spokesperson for the Capitol police told NPR there had been reports of several bites and that a fox had been spotted on Monday around Senate office buildings. The spokesperson said foxes had been spotted before but described the aggressive behavior as “unusual”.
Punchbowl News later identified at least one of the bitten individuals as Ami Bera, a Democratic congressman from California.
“I expect to get attacked if I go on Fox News; I don’t expect to get attacked by a fox,” Bera told Punchbowl News.
Bera, who described the attack as “unprovoked”, told Punchbowl that the attack had occurred on Monday night. “I didn’t see it and all of a sudden I felt something lunge at the back of my leg,” the congressman said. “I jumped and got my umbrella.”
The fox, meanwhile, appears to have acquired its own publicity team. A Twitter account, @thecapitolfox, tells the animal’s side of the story, and it has released an “official statement”.
“Today, I was forcibly removed from my den by very scary and mean individuals. I am innocent of the crimes in question. This will not be the end.
“I am a work in progress,” the statement concluded, echoing the words of a film star recently embroiled in a controversy of his own.
A reporter for Politico, Ximena Bustillo, also tweeted that she had been bitten. “That feel when you get bit by a fox leaving Capitol, cause that’s of course something I expect in THE MIDDLE OF DC,” she tweeted.
On Tuesday evening, Bera tweeted to report that he was “healthy and back at work” after the encounter.
“Joking aside, animal bites are extremely serious. In the case of an encounter, please speak with a physician immediately,” he tweeted, including a link to the CDC’s website.
Vivian Ho and Matthew Cantor contributed reporting