US congresswoman describes fending off attacker in her apartment building with hot coffee

Rep Angie Craig (D-MN) speaks at a press conference outside the US Capitol Building on 2 February 2023 in Washington, DC (Getty Images)
Rep Angie Craig (D-MN) speaks at a press conference outside the US Capitol Building on 2 February 2023 in Washington, DC (Getty Images)

A Democratic congresswoman has described in a new victim impact statement how her whole family was shaken after she was forced to use hot coffee to fend off an intruder in her Washington DC apartment building, according to ABC News.

Rep Angie Craig has largely avoided commenting publicly about the incident that occurred earlier this year, when police say she was followed to an elevator by a man who appeared to be having a mental health crisis; the man then trapped her in the building’s elevator and physically assaulted her when she denied his demand to enter her apartment.

Ms Craig, a third-term congresswoman from Minnesota, said that she suffered bruising but was otherwise uninjured in the attack.

According to US Capitol Police (USCP), which investigates crimes against members of Congress, Ms Craig used a cup of hot coffee to ward her attacker off. She was then able to escape, though her assailant fled.

Kendrick Hamlin, 26, who was believed to be homeless at the time, was later arrested for the attack. He pleaded guilty to charges of attacking the congresswoman as well as a law enforcement officer in June.

“Mr Hamlin accepted responsibility for his actions today with the earnest hope of moving towards rehabilitation and the mental health treatment he very much wants and needs,” his attorney said at the time.

Ms Craig described her experience in a victim impact statement filed by prosecutors on Tuesday.

"While this case has received much attention because I am a Member of Congress, that morning I was simply a woman followed into an elevator by a man and assaulted there," she said, according to ABC News. "He grabbed my neck and slammed me into the steel wall. He punched me in the face. He attempted to pull me back as the doors opened, and I screamed for help.”

"Physically, the attack left bruising and a cut to my lip, as well as several days of soreness and discomfort," she continued.

Ms Craig went on to say that the attack had “significantly impacted” her sense of security, according to ABC.

USCP has been sounding the alarm about potential violence against members of Congress for years; the attack on former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband and the January 6 attacks both led to expansions of the agency’s work to protect lawmakers around the country.

The force now has field offices around the country and has requested more resources for investigating threats to members of Congress as well as for providing “physical security” around their residences.

Ms Craig is not the only member of Congress to have faced threats unrelated to her service in Congress near her DC residence.

A Democratic congressman from Texas, Henry Cuellar, was the victim of a carjacking in October when three armed men stole his vehicle at gunpoint in southwest DC. It was later recovered by police.

Staffers for other members of Congress have also reported being the victims of crime in Washington DC, where city officials are sounding the alarm about rising gun-related crimes, especially carjackings.

Earlier this week, DC’s Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a public emergency over youth crime in the District of Columbia. She has pledged to continue focusing on law enforcement until the city’s crime rates drop.

“We are just going to keep pushing on all fronts, and we know that as the ecosystem itself corrects, there are more accountability measures, that prevention efforts take hold, it will – it will drive down numbers. We will get there,” she said at a press conference.