US Representative Bowman pleads guilty to triggering fire alarm at Capitol

The National Action Network National Convention in New York City

By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic U.S. Representative Jamaal Bowman on Thursday pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge that he set off a false fire alarm in the Capitol weeks ago, prompting evacuation of a congressional office building as his party was trying to delay a key vote.

Bowman, a former teacher who represents a district covering part of New York City and Westchester County, was charged on Wednesday with a single count of false fire alarm, documents in District of Columbia Superior Court showed.

"What I did was against DC law. As I said from the very beginning, I was not trying to disrupt any congressional proceedings," Bowman told reporters on Thursday ahead of his arraignment.

"I got to take responsibility for it, which I am here to do."

Bowman's plea deal struck with the Washington, DC, Attorney General's office included writing a letter of apology to the U.S. Capitol Police and a $1,000 fine.

If the terms are fulfilled, prosecutors will drop the charge at a sentencing hearing on Jan. 29, according to the plea deal. Until then, Bowman will be on probation.

Bowman, 47, had previously admitted to pulling the fire alarm, mistakenly thinking it would open a door to the Cannon House Building. He has rejected accusations by Republicans that he was attempting to delay a vote in the House of Representatives on a bipartisan bill to keep the government open for 45 days and avoid a shutdown.

The bill ultimately passed with near-unanimous Democratic support but, at the moment, Democrats were scrambling to buy time to read the bill, which Republican then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy had just unveiled.

The Cannon House Building was ultimately evacuated for about 90 minutes. Some House Republicans had called for Bowman to resign following the incident.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)