By Richard Simon, Michael A. Memoli, Lisa Mascaro and David Lauter, Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON — An unarmed 34-year-old woman from Connecticut who apparently tried to ram her car through security barriers near the White House was shot and killed by police outside the U.S. Capitol on Thursday afternoon, law enforcement officials said. Her 1-yrear-old daughter was found in the car unharmed.
Two police officers — one from the U.S. Secret Service and the other from the U.S. Capitol Police — were injured in the incident, both apparently from car crashes. Both are in good condition, officials said. A 1-year old child who was in the car is also in good condition and was taken into protective custody, officials said.
[The New York Post, citing sources, identified the driver as Miriam Carey, 34, a dental hygienist from Stamford, Conn., with a history of mental health problems.]
[But The Washington Post contacted family and friends of Carey and said “the initial portrait of Carey that emerged suggested a person unlikely to be found in the center of such violence.” Carey, according to public documents, friends and family members, had finished college and established a long work history as a dental hygienist, the Post said. Her sister, Amy Carey, a Brooklyn nurse, was incredulous when she was reached by the Post Thursday afternoon and told what had happened. “That’s impossible. She works, she holds a job,” said Amy Carey, who confirmed that her Stamford-based sister drove a black car. She said she knew of nothing that would bring her sister to Washington. “She wouldn’t be in D.C. She was just in Connecticut two days ago, I spoke to her. . . . I don’t know what’s happening.”]
“This does not appear to be in any way an accident,” District of Columbia Police Chief Cathy Lanier told reporters at a news conference several hours after the shooting. There were “two security perimeters that were attempted to be breached” at the White House and then at the Capitol, she said.
The car, a black sedan with Connecticut license plates, initially “tried to gain access” to the White House complex, hitting a post that is part of the outer perimeter of the security barriers there, Ed Donovan of the Secret Service told reporters. After being confronted by officers, the driver fled down Pennsylvania Avenue with Secret Service officers in pursuit.
The driver then backed into a police cruiser at a traffic circle near the foot of Capitol Hill on the west side of the Capitol building. Video shot by Al Hurra, an Arabic-language television station sponsored by the U.S. government, showed police attempting to surround the car, which sped off.
Officers fired at the car. At least six shots could be heard on the video. The driver continued across Capitol Hill, coming to a stop near the Supreme Court building on the east side of the Capitol. She was shot and killed there, Lanier said.
Police in Stamford, Conn., are searching a home in an apartment complex there as part of the investigation, law enforcement officials said.
“It sounded like fireworks, like a big fireworks display,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., who heard the shots from the balcony off the House chamber while talking to another congressman about the government shutdown. “But one had the feeling it could be gunshots.
“We saw citizens fleeing this way and police going that way,” he said.
The shooting, which came just two weeks after a shooter killed a dozen people at the nearby Washington Navy Yard, led Capitol Police to order the U.S. Capitol locked down for about a half-hour.
The House had just finishing voting for the day and lawmakers were clearing out. Lawmakers rushed back into the building and security hustled to secure the chambers.
Police also cleared people from Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, pushing tourists into Lafayette Park across the street. The White House ordered people to remain inside.
People outside the Capitol could be seen running, as police cars with flashing red lights sped down Constitution Avenue. The House and Senate proceedings stopped, and Capitol police officers ran through the building directing staff to stay in their offices.
An email sent to staff by Capitol Police about 2:30 p.m. advised: “Gunshots have been reported on Capitol Hill requiring all occupants in all House Office Buildings to shelter in place.”