Parkland victim's dad seen pinned by Capitol Police, arrested after interrupting House hearing

A subcommittee was looking at gun use and regulation "overreach."

March 23, 2023, 5:59 PM

The father of a student killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting was pinned to the ground and briefly arrested at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday afternoon after he loudly protested during a House hearing on what Republicans called federal government "overreach" regarding gun ownership.

Manuel Oliver and his wife, Patricia Oliver, were removed from the House oversight subcommittee hearing by Capitol Police officers at the direction of Chairman Pat Fallon.

The Olivers' 17-year-old son, Joaquin, was murdered along with 16 other students, faculty and staff in Parkland, Florida, in 2018.

The Olivers have become advocates against gun violence in the years since. Manuel Oliver was previously removed from the White House last year after shouting at President Joe Biden for, he said, not doing enough on the issue.

Patricia Oliver spoke first during Thursday’s proceeding, interrupting Fallon, R-Texas. Manuel Oliver also shouted out, using an expletive as he criticized Republicans on the panel about halfway through the hearing.

Moments after police were directed to remove the Olivers, yelling and a loud thud were heard just outside the hearing room and Manuel Oliver was pinned to the ground by multiple officers, as seen in video captured by ABC News.

It wasn't immediately clear what happened prior to Manuel Oliver being taken to the ground. One officer told ABC News that he was "resisting" and "moving around." But his wife told ABC News that he "kept saying the truth" and that officers "didn't like the way he speaks out."

Freshman Democratic Rep. Maxwell Alejandro Frost of Florida -- formerly of the group March For Our Lives, founded in the wake of the Parkland shooting -- asked the officers what they were doing as they pinned Manuel Oliver and informed them that his son was killed in Parkland.

In this screen grab from a video, Manuel Oliver walked away in handcuffs after being arrested outside an Oversight Committee hearing at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on March 23, 2023.
Will Steakin/ABC News

Capitol Police confirmed to ABC News that Manuel Oliver was arrested, and Patricia Oliver told ABC News within hours that he had been released.

She said that her husband did not lunge or get physical with officers before they took him down. But Capitol Police said in a statement that Manuel Oliver was detained for allegedly crowding, obstructing or incommoding "after he disrupted a hearing, refused to stop shouting, and then attempted to go back inside the hearing room."

Patricia Oliver denied to ABC News that her husband tried to go back into the hearing.

Manuel Oliver was issued a citation as part of his arrest and wasn't booked into jail, police said. They noted that his wife wasn't detained because she "followed the lawful directions of our officers."

The altercation appears to have begun after Patricia Oliver yelled during the hearing, leading Fallon to call for officers. Frost tweeted afterward that while “Patricia said one thing,” Fallon “escalated the entire situation.”

“You’re breaching protocol and distributing the committee room,” Fallon said at the hearing.

Fallon also scolded his critics in the gallery: "See, this is exactly what we have to avoid, which is some minority of folks trying to silence dissent. Dissent shouldn't be kryptonite."

Soon after, he cracked, "Is this an insurrection? So will they be held to the same-- I don't want another Jan. 6, do we?"

In this screen grab from a video, Manuel Oliver walked away in handcuffs after being arrested outside an Oversight Committee hearing at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on March 23, 2023.
Will Steakin/ABC News

As the disruptions continued, Fallon said, "Does the Capitol Police not do their jobs? What in the hell's going on?"

He then sent the hearing into recess, during which Manuel Oliver was taken into custody, he said. When the proceeding resumed, he addressed the incident.

"Unfortunately, we had some folks that were disruptive during the hearing," he said. "We asked Capitol Police to remove them, they were then removed and then one decided to come back in while we were still gaveled in ... Capitol Police were overwhelmed outside in the hallway and now we're back in session."

Rep. David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat who also sits on the subcommittee, told ABC News afterward, “We had people in the room who had become had become activists because they were personally touched by gun violence, and for them to hear elected officials that our answer to gun violence is to get rid of the ATF -- I think it was difficult for member of the public to hear.”