WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers who were outside the U.S. Capitol Building were rushed inside to safety when shots erupted Thursday afternoon, several said in interviews afterward.
"We thought we heard shots, we saw a lot of police cars, then we heard shots," said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who was walking back to his office with Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) at the time.
"Bang, bang, bang, bang," said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who allowed that he was not a gun expert but thought it sounded like semi-automatic fire.
The senators saw what at first they thought was a motorcade, but was more likely part of the police chase of a car that began near the White House.
"It sounded like the usual motorcade, except for the fact that the lights and motorcycles were in the Capitol grounds," said Casey.
"We saw people drop down to the ground, not shot, just drop down," Brown said. "The cops said get down, get behind this car. We did that. Then in a couple of minutes, they said come back. They told us to run back and come in this building [the Capitol]."
But the entrance was locked, Brown said, and it took a little while to get the door opened. He appeared impressed by the law enforcement response.
"The cops are all rushing in doing their jobs, and we're all running away," Brown said. "That's how this police work works. Pretty gutsy work that they do."
Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.