Capitol locked down in car chase
WASHINGTON — A woman with a 1-year-old girl led Secret Service and police on a harrowing car chase on Thursday from the White House past the Capitol, attempting to penetrate the security barriers at both national landmarks before she was shot to death, police said. The child survived.
“I'm pretty confident this was not an accident,” said Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier. Still, Capitol Police said there appeared to be no terrorist link. Authorities would not say whether the woman had been armed.
Tourists, congressional staff and even some senators watched as a caravan of law enforcement vehicles chased a black Infiniti with Connecticut license plates down Constitution Avenue outside the Capitol. House and Senate lawmakers, inside debating how to end a government shutdown, briefly shuttered their chambers as Capitol Police shut down the building.
The woman's car at one point was surrounded by police cars and she managed to escape, careening around a traffic circle and past the north side of the Capitol. A TV camera showed police pointing firearms at her car before she rammed a Secret Service vehicle and continued driving. Lanier said police shot and killed her a block northeast of the historic building.
Law enforcement officials said the car was registered to Miriam Carey, 34, of Stamford, Conn. The officials said they believe Carey was driving the car.
One Secret Service member and a 23-year veteran of the Capitol Police were injured. Officials said they are in good condition and expected to recover.
“This appears to be an isolated, singular matter, with, at this point, no nexus to terrorism,” Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine said.
The pursuit began when the car sped onto a driveway leading to the White House, over a set of lowered barricades. When the driver couldn't get through a second barrier, she spun the car in the opposite direction, flipping a Secret Service officer over the hood of the car as she sped away, B.J. Campbell, a tourist from Portland, Ore., said
“The Secret Service guy was just having a cow,” B.J. Campbell said. “Yelling at her and banging on the car.” The Secret Service officers pulled a black metal gate into her path and she slowed to try to go around it. Then the agent moved the gate in front of her again.
Then the chase began.
“The car was trying to get away. But it was going over the median and over the curb,” said Matthew Coursen, who was watching from a cab window when the Infiniti sped by him. “The car got boxed in and that's when I saw an officer of some kind draw his weapon and fire shots into the car.”
Police shot and killed the driver just outside the Hart Senate Office Building, where many senators have their offices. Dine said an officer took the child from the car to a hospital. She is in good condition under protective custody, officials said.
“The security perimeters worked,” Lanier said. “They did exactly what they were supposed to do.”
A few senators between the Capitol and their office buildings said they heard the shots.
“We heard three, four, five pops,” said Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.
Casey said he and fellow Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio and Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, were walking outside the Capitol when they saw police vehicles race by and thought it could be a motorcade.
Casey said the three turned to head back toward the Capitol. Capitol police quickly shouted for them to take shelter.
“It wasn't a suggestion, it was a very urgent directive,” Casey said.
Casey said he crouched behind a vehicle for three or four minutes before Capitol police urged them to get inside the Capitol.
While crouching behind the vehicle, Casey said his thoughts turned to the recent Naval shipyard shootings and the possibility of a heavily armed gunman, Casey said, “We assumed it was a lot more serious than it turned out to be.”
Others witnessed the incident, too.
“There were multiple shots fired and the air was filled with gunpowder,” said Berin Szoka, whose office at a technology think tank overlooks the shooting scene.
Before the disruption, lawmakers had been trying to find common ground to end a government shutdown.
Capitol Police on the plaza around the Capitol said they were working without pay as the result of the shutdown.