Police probe Capitol Hill car chase; 1 woman dead

Police probe Capitol Hill car chase; 1 woman dead (Image 1)

WASHINGTON (AP) – Law enforcement authorities were investigating why a
Connecticut woman tried to breach a barrier at the White House, setting
off a high-speed car chase that put the Capitol on lockdown and ended
with her being shot dead by police.

The harrowing chase Thursday unfolded between two
national landmarks, briefly shuttered the chambers where federal
lawmakers were debating how to end a government shutdown and stirred
fresh panic in a city where a gunman two weeks ago killed 12 people.

Police said there appeared to be no direct link to
terrorism and there was no indication that the woman was even armed.

Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine, whose officers have been working without
pay as a result of the shutdown, called it an “isolated, singular
matter.”

Still, tourists, congressional staff and even some
senators watched anxiously as a caravan of law enforcement vehicles
chased a black Infiniti with Connecticut license plates down
Constitution Avenue outside the Capitol and as officers with
high-powered firearms canvassed the area. The House and Senate both
abruptly suspended business, a lawmaker's speech cut off in
mid-sentence, as the Capitol Police broadcast a message over its
emergency radio system telling people to stay in place and move away
from the windows.

The woman's car at one point had been surrounded by
police cars and she managed to escape, careening around a traffic
circle and past the north side of the Capitol. Video shot by a TV
cameraman showed police pointing firearms at her car before she rammed a
Secret Service vehicle and continued driving. Metropolitan Police Chief
Cathy Lanier said police shot and killed her a block northeast of the
historic building.

Two law enforcement officials identified the female
driver as 34-year-old Miriam Carey, of Stamford, Conn. She was
traveling with a 1-year-old girl who avoided serious injury and was in
protective custody late Thursday.

The officials spoke on condition of
anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss an ongoing
investigation.

The FBI served a search warrant in connection with
the investigation and police cordoned off a condominium building and the
surrounding neighborhood in the shoreline city.

Condo resident Eric Bredow, a banker, said police told him the suspect in the car chase was one of his neighbors.

“I see the door to my building open and the FBI
bomb squad in front of it,” said Bredow, who said helicopters were
flying overhead when he first went home

The chain-of-events began when the woman sped onto a
driveway leading to the White House, over a set of 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, said B.J. Campbell, a tourist from Portland,
Oregon.

“This wasn't no accident. She was not a lost
tourist,” Campbell said later near the scene that had been blocked off
with police tape.

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.”

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.

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, who said he was
briefed by the Homeland Security Department, said he did not think the
woman was armed. “There was no return fire,” he said.

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. Police ordered Casey and nearby tourists to crouch behind a
car for protection, then hustled everyone into the Capitol.

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.

The shooting comes two weeks after a mentally
disturbed employee terrorized the Navy Yard with a shotgun, leaving 13
people dead including the gunman.

Before the disruption, lawmakers had been trying to
find common ground to end a government shutdown. The House had just
finished approving legislation aimed at partly lifting the government
shutdown by paying National Guard and Reserve members.

Capitol Police on the plaza around the Capitol said
they were working without pay as the result of the shutdown. A
spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said a bill to pay them
was under consideration.

Copyright 2013 The
Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be
published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s