The head of the U.S. Capitol police is resigning after a breach of the Capitol building on Wednesday by a group of rioters.
U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund’s resignation will be in effect on Jan. 16, a police spokeswoman told news outlets.
Sund said that police planned for a free speech demonstration and was not expecting a violent attack, which he said was unlike anything he had experienced in his 30 years in law enforcement.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had earlier on Thursday called on Sund to step down.
“There was a failure of leadership at the top of Capitol Police,” she told reporters at a press conference. “I think Mr. Sund—He hasn’t even called us since this happened.”
Lawmakers had gathered on Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol for a joint session of Congress to count and certify Electoral College votes for the 2020 presidential election, but proceedings in the chambers to debate whether to reject votes for Arizona were interrupted in the afternoon when a small group of rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
It is unclear who instigated the breach of the building around 2:15 p.m. Officials declared around 6 p.m. the Capitol building had been secured. Congress in the early hours of Thursday certified the Electoral College vote for former Vice President Joe Biden.
Prior to announcing his resignation, Sund praised police officers on Thursday and said that they “acted valiantly when faced with thousands of individuals involved in violent riotous actions” at the Capitol. He said that on Wednesday, the rioters “actively attacked” police and other law enforcement officers with “metal pipes, discharged chemical irritants, and took up other weapons against our officers.”
“They were determined to enter the Capitol Building by causing great damage,” he said, reported KMGH-TV.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany condemned Wednesday’s violence in a short address at the White House.
“The violence we saw yesterday at our nation’s capital was appalling, reprehensible, and antithetical to the American way. We condemn it, the president and this administration, in the strongest possible terms,”she told a press conference Thursday afternoon. “It is unacceptable and those that broke the law should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
She said described Wednesday’s events as “a group of violent rioters undermining the legitimate first amendment rights of the many thousands who came to peacefully have their voices heard in our nation’s capital.”
“Those who violently besieged our capitol are the opposite of everything that this administration stands for,” she said. “The core value of our administration is the idea that all citizens have the right to live in safety peace and freedom.”
Following the breach of the Capitol, the FBI is seeking the public’s help to identify those who were involved, and National Guard personnel will remain in Washington through the end of the month. Jan. 20 is Inauguration Day, when Biden is slated to be sworn into office.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.