A 38-year-old woman pulled a six-inch hunting knife from beneath her coat yesterday in the Capitol Hill reception room of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) and was wrestled to the floor by a Secret Service agent.
Kennedy, who was working four doors away in his private office, did not learn of the inccident until after the woman was taken away in handcuffs.
The woman was identified as Suzanne Osgood, whose family lives in Nashua, N. H. A family member said in a statement that Osgood has been hospilized a number of times for treatment of mental illness and that the family knew of no political motivation for the action.
The Secret Service agent, Joseph F. Meusberger, was knicked in the hand during the brief struggle in the second-floor suite of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.
Meusberger, who was sitting in a chair just inside the open door of the small reception room, said the woman "shouted an unintelligible scream" as she pulled the knife from her coat. He said that he subdued her with the help of Capitol Police Officer Gilbert Mayo, who was stationed in the hallway.
The incident happened shortly before 10 a.m. Kennedy's administrative aide, Rick Burke, said he told the senator about it 10 minutes later, as Kennedy crossed the hall to preside at a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Kennedy, campaigning in Iowa last night, praised the Secret Service for "courageous and efficient action." He said "I'm grateful that there was no serious injury to anyone in my office."
Osgood was arraigned yesterday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Lawrence Margolis on a charge of assaulting a federal officer. Meusberger, one of half a dozen Secret Service men guarding the Democratic presidential candidate yesterday, returned to his post after bandaging a quarter-inch cut on his left hand, according to a Secret Service spokesman.
U.S. Attorney Carl S. Rauh told Margolis that Osgood's mother, Ann J. Osgood of Nashua, told him her daughter has been "in and out of mental hospitals throughout the Northeast U.S." and had attempted suicide three times in the last 10 or 12 years. Margolis ordered Osgood to undergo a 60-day psychiatric evaluation at St. Elizabeths Hospital.
After the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles H. Roistacher said he knew of no motive for the attack.
Osgood, looking pale and disheveled, told Margolis she had $920 in travelers' checks and $150 in cash. A pale, petite woman, 5 feet tall and 100 pounds, Osgood was wearing the same green print dress and long, gray, hooded coat that prosecutors said she used to conceal the six-inch Beck hunting knife when she was passed by Capitol Police into the building in the morning.
Prosecutors said she has been living for the last month at the Hotel Harrington, 11th and E streets NW. For a month before that, according to a passport she was carrying, she was in Ireland, Rauh said, and before that she rented a $35-a-week room in the Bridghton section of Boston.
In an interview with Washington Post special correspondent Stacy Jolna, Osgood's sister, Sally Bashalany, of Nashua, said Osgood "never expressed any type of political interests or to our knowledge never worked for any political candidate.The Kennedy family was not discussed by her in any way, negative or positive."
Bashalany, 24, said "the family of Suzanne Osgood expresses deep shock at her actions . . . Suzanne had been hospitalized for a schizophrenic condition" over the years, most recently during the summer of 1978, when psychiatrists "determined her not dangerous to herself or to others, and therefore was released," her sister said.
Deputy Chief W. W. Kirby of the Capitol Police met with other department officials yesterday to discuss whether additional security measures should be employed on the Hill, and specifically near Kennedy's office. Kirby said the force has metal detectors, but "we don't want to overreact. This is a democratic society." CAPTION: Picture 1, SUZANNE OSGOOD . . . sent to St. Elizabeths; Picture 2, Sen. Edward Kennedy returns to his office from a committee meeting. By James K. W. Atherton -- The Washington Post