Rep. Bowman pleads guilty after pulling fire alarm ahead of House spending bill vote

"It's pretty embarrassing," the Democratic lawmaker said.

October 26, 2023, 1:00 PM

Rep. Jamaal Bowman pleaded guilty on Thursday after being charged with falsely pulling the fire alarm at a congressional office building, a misdemeanor, before the House voted on a stopgap spending bill to fund the government last month.

"I'm thankful for the quick resolution from the District of Columbia Attorney General's office on this issue and grateful that the United States Capitol Police General Counsel's office agreed I did not obstruct nor intend to obstruct any House vote or proceedings. I am responsible for activating a fire alarm, I will be paying the fine issued, and look forward to these charges being ultimately dropped," Bowman initially said in a statement Wednesday after he was hit with the misdemeanor charge.

"I think we all know that Republicans will attempt to use this to distract everyone from their mess, but I look forward to putting this behind me and to continue working hard to deliver for New Yorkers," he said.

After his court appearance on Thursday, Bowman told ABC News, "I regret Capitol Police resources needed to be used to respond to that. I'm glad no one was hurt."

"I really regret that this caused so much confusion and that people had to evacuate and I just caused a disturbance," he added. "I hate that. It's pretty embarrassing."

Bowman's next appearance will be in January. Prosecutors will move to vacate that court date in compliance with the plea agreement he made: Bowman will have to pay the maximum fine of $1,000, write a letter of apology to Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger and serve three months' probation.

Court documents state that Bowman, D-N.Y., knowingly pulled the fire alarm in the Cannon House office building on Sept. 30 while the House was voting to keep the government funded.

Security camera footage reviewed by the Capitol Police showed Bowman looking at the doors which read "Emergency Exit Only Push Until Alarm sounds," and when those doors were locked, looked at the fire alarm and pulled it, according to the court documents.

PHOTO: Rep. Jamaal Bowman arrives to the U.S. Capitol, June 22, 2023.
Rep. Jamaal Bowman arrives to the U.S. Capitol, June 22, 2023.
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

The complaint states that after sounding the fire alarm, Bowman walked by Capitol Police officers and didn't say anything or alert them that he was the one that pulled the fire alarm.

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Four minutes after pulling the alarm, he entered the Capitol.

Bowman previously told ABC News the incident was an "innocent mistake."

"I didn't know it would trigger the whole building," he has said.

In an interview with Capitol Police during their investigation, Bowman explained that the door he pulled was usually unlocked during votes and that he didn't tell anyone he pulled the fire alarm because he didn't want to miss votes to keep the government funded.

Still, Republicans accused Bowman of intentionally delaying the vote to allow more time for Democrats to vote to fund the government -- accusations Bowman swatted away.

He told reporters on Thursday, "I was trying to get out the door. I was rushing to a vote. I'm thankful that we have an agreement in place, and I'm thankful that in three months it's going to be dismissed. And now let's move on."

He called the court proceeding "one step closer to getting this behind me and focusing on the work for the district."

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