US Congressman charged over false Capitol fire alarm

Congressman Jamaal Bowman — IANS

Washington, Oct 26 (IANS) Democrat Congressman Jamaal Bowman has been charged of falsely triggering a fire alarm in a US Capitol office building, which led to an hour-long evacuation.

According to a court filing, the New York Democrat is facing a single charge of “knowingly” setting off a false fire alarm on September 30, which he claims was by mistake thinking that it would get a door to open while he was in a rush, reports the BBC.

Bowman is due to to appear in Washington D.C. on Thursday morning for his arraignment on the misdemeanour charge, which carries a maximum penalty of $1,000 and six months in prison.

In a statement on Wednesday, Bowman said that he would pay a fine “and look forward to these charges being ultimately dropped”.

While speaking to reporters later, the Congressman called the incident a “lapse in judgment”, adding that he will also write an apology letter.

The incident took place on the same day as Democrats were attempting to delay a vote as they sought more time to read a stopgap funding bill and decide whether to support it, reports the BBC.

Republicans have accused Bowman of deliberately attempting to sabotage a vote on the bill.

In an affidavit, Capitol Police noted there were three signs near the door warning about activating emergency exits and fire alarms and that Bowman had left the area quickly after the alarm was triggered.

But the affidavit noted he had denied to police that the act was intentional or that he had meant to disrupt any official proceedings.

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