Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from Texas, spoke to reporters outside a meeting of Democratic Caucus members Tuesday after he was carjacked by three armed attackers near the U.S. Capitol Monday night.
Cuellar told reporters that the robbery happened in Washington’s Navy Yard area, about a mile from the U.S. Capitol, near where Democratic House Leader Hakeem Jeffries and other lawmakers live.
“Three guys came out of nowhere, and they pointed guns at me,” the Texas Democrat said, explaining they did not harm him and were only after his car. “I looked at one with a gun and another with a gun out the one behind me. So they said they wanted my car and I said sure.”
He said he would defer the decision to increase security around him or near his home to House administration and the police.
“Yeah, I don’t know,” the Democrat said. “I will leave that to House administration. But this happened less than a mile away from the Capitol … you got our leader Hakeem there, Katherine Clark, who lives there, a whole bunch of members that live in that place, so I’ll leave that up to the police.”
Cuellar said the incident reinforces the importance of supporting law enforcement.
“You got to support law enforcement. And I’ve been doing that for a long time. I have three brothers who are peace officers,” he added. “I do want to thank the Capitol Police and I certainly want to thank the Metro Police. I’m a big law enforcement person. I got three boys in law enforcement. So I certainly appreciate the good work that the police did.”
The lawmaker clarified that law enforcement officers were able to recover the car and “everything” inside it, including his cell phone, within two hours.
“You got to keep calm under those situations, and then they took off,” Cuellar told reporters, describing the culprits as “young” people wearing masks. “You gotta keep calm under those situations, and you analyze the situation quickly. You look around, one gun that can go and maybe a third one behind me. You gotta stay calm. They wanted the car, sure.”
He added: “We tracked the car, the phone, the car, everything and within, I don’t know, less than two hours, I got everything back.”
When asked if the crime affected him mentally, the lawmaker said he was doing “good.” He also said he did not think he was intentionally targeted.
Cuellar’s chief of staff Jacob Hochberg released a statement Monday night saying Rep. Cuellar was parking his car this evening when “three armed assailants approached the Congressman and stole his vehicle. Luckily, he was not harmed and is working with local law enforcement.”
Hochberg also confirmed police recovered Cuellar’s vehicle.
Monday’s carjacking was the second assault on a member of Congress in the District of Columbia this year.
In February, Democratic Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota was assaulted in her apartment building, suffering bruises while escaping serious injury.
In the February attack, police arrested Kendrid Khalil Hamlin, who pleaded guilty to charges of assaulting a member of Congress and assaulting law enforcement officers. Hamlin was also accused of assaulting two officers as they attempted to arrest him on the day of Craig’s attack.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.