The District of Columbia’s Superior Court formally filed charges against Representative Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) for triggering a false fire alarm. The congressman, who subsequently agreed to a plea agreement, activated the alarm when he tried to access an emergency exit before a crucial budget vote meant to prevent a government shutdown. Prior speculations suggested that he may have deliberately orchestrated this act to impede the process.
Security video footage reveals that Bowman tried to exit through both emergency doors before triggering the alarm, potentially supporting the representative’s claim regarding his intentions. However, given his prior role as a high school principal, someone expected to be well-versed in fire alarm procedures, his explanation introduces more inquiries than resolutions.
Official records indicate that at around 12:05 p.m. on September 20, an African American male with a shaved head, dressed in a suit and sporting a flag lapel pin, activated the fire alarm. This occurred roughly five minutes after the House had been summoned for a vote. In response, Capitol police evacuated the premises and swiftly identified the individual responsible as Bowman.
During an interview, Bowman confessed to pulling the alarm, explaining that he habitually used the same exit, which was typically unlocked, and he was in a hurry to reach the voting session. His actions resulted in the evacuation of the Cannon House Office Building for approximately ninety minutes.
On Thursday, October 25, Bowman was arraigned and admitted guilt for the charges against him. As part of his sentencing, he must pay a $1,000 fine and compose an apology letter to the DC Capitol Police.
Non-compliance with the letter requirement may lead to a six-month prison term. Nevertheless, full exoneration is possible if he complies with these terms. The New York representative is set to return to court for a review hearing on January 29, 2024.