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Rep. Angie Craig told police she fought off an attacker using hot coffee

Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., pictured here speaking at a press conference earlier this month, was attacked inside the elevator of her Washington, D.C., apartment complex on Thursday.
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Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., pictured here speaking at a press conference earlier this month, was attacked inside the elevator of her Washington, D.C., apartment complex on Thursday.

Representative Angie Craig, D-Minn., is bruised but otherwise OK after fighting off an attacker in the elevator of her D.C. apartment building Thursday.

Police say the suspected assailant, 26-year-old Kendrick Hamlin, is in custody, charged with simple assault. The attack did not appear to be politically motivated, said Craig's chief of staff, Nick Coe, in a statement.

According to the police report, Craig spotted her assailant in the lobby of her apartment complex around 7:10 a.m. The man was "acting erratic as if he was under the influence of an unknown substance," Craig told police.

She said "Good morning" to the man before she entered the elevator. The man followed her in "and began to randomly do pushups," the report says.

The man then punched Craig on the chin and grabbed her neck, according to the report. Craig told police she threw her hot coffee on the man, who then fled.

Police said they did not immediately find the attacker after searching the basement-level parking garage. A bulletin asking for public tips on his location offered a $1,000 reward.

The suspect was arrested a few hours later. Police noted he had no fixed address.

The congresswoman "suffered bruising, but is otherwise physically okay," according to her chief of staff. Craig went to the Capitol shortly after the incident, casting three votes as part of the day's proceedings.

Craig, 50, is serving her third term in Congress, representing Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District, just south of Minneapolis. She serves as co-chairwoman of the Congressional Equality Caucus.

Fellow Minnesota Democrat, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, tweeted about the incident on Thursday, saying Craig wasn't deterred from attending a meeting about her district.

"No one messes with Angie," Klobuchar added.

The attacker did not appear to have political motivations, according to Craig's office, but it's the latest in a string of violence against elected officials and their families, raising questionsabout the safety of serving in office.

Capitol Police investigated 7,501 threats against members of Congress last year, a slight decrease from the number in 2020 and 2021 — but U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger says the number is "still too high."

Capitol Police, which operates separately but often in cooperation with the D.C. Metropolitan Police, said it has increased protective measures against members of Congress but does not discuss them for security reasons.

The Senateoverwhelmingly voted in favor of approving a $2.1 billion funding package for Capitol Police in 2021 following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Emily Olson
Emily Olson is on a three-month assignment as a news writer and live blog editor, helping shape NPR's digital breaking news strategy.