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Shots fired at U.S. Capitol

A round of shots were fired outside the U.S. Capitol building around 11:20 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 3. At least one woman was killed and one police officer was wounded.

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By Richard A. Serrano and Richard Simon, Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — The woman shot to death after a police chase from the White House to Capitol Hill had been suffering from mental health issues, according to federal law enforcement officials, including postpartum depression after her daughter was born and a troubling fixation on President Obama.

Miriam Carey’s declining mental stability, the sources said, developed into a belief that the president was “controlling” her life, which may explain why she appeared Thursday afternoon next to the White House and then led Secret Service agents and Washington police on a two-mile, three-minute chase down Pennsylvania Avenue. Along the way, two officers were injured.

“She thought that the president had her apartment under surveillance,” Rep.  Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, told the Los Angeles Times. “That must have prompted her trip to Washington and her attempt to visit the White House.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Gunfire on Capitol Hill

Carey’s sister, Amy, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Friday, “We will never know what Miriam was thinking in those last hours before she died. We can only speculate.”

She said her sister experienced postpartum depression “with psychosis … which came along with treatment and medication and counseling…. She had her challenges as a new parent. I am a parent. I have two children. … There was nothing out of the ordinary.  She didn’t appear to be unstable.”

But Amy Carey also asked, “Was there some other way that she could have been helped so it didn’t end tragically?”

McCaul said, however, that the police “didn’t really have much of a choice, given the way she was driving.”

“At the time, they don’t know who she is, what her motivation is,” he said. “When I talk to the FBI or Secret Service, they’re just amazed that she could drive at 80 mph down Pennsylvania Avenue and not hit a car…. When you’re traveling like that, and you’re erratic … there’s plenty of pedestrians that could be killed.

“Plus, the threat to the White House raises the stakes. And then this car was seen around the Capitol grounds. That raises the stakes even higher.”

Members of Miriam Carey’s family were in Washington on Friday afternoon to identify the body and planned to issue a written statement Friday night in Brooklyn, N.Y.

McCaul, who was briefed by authorities Friday, said he was told that Carey had a history of apparent mental problems. She had been hospitalized, and her boyfriend had called police to express concern about her behavior.

McCaul said that authorities searching her Stamford, Conn., apartment found an envelope with a white powder. They said they were testing the substance “out of an abundance of caution.”

In Bloomfield, Conn., a former neighbor of Carey’s boyfriend, Eric Francis, talked about seeing Carey’s car a lot in the neighborhood.

Emmanuel Ayettey told The Times that Francis lived on his street — Valley View — for more than 10 years until five months ago, when his house was foreclosed upon.

Ayettey, 45, said that when news of a shooting in the Capitol broke Thursday, he immediately recognized the black Infiniti on television reports.

“I had seen it all the time at his house,” Ayettey said. “The lady came roughly on the weekends — on Saturdays and Sundays.”

Ayettey said he did not know Carey very well, but he called her boyfriend Francis a friend.

“We organized parties together,” Ayettey said. “He blows his horn to wave to me. We talked about everything — what we see around. He’s a nice guy. Very down to earth.”

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill used Thursday’s incident to press for an agreement to end the government shutdown, noting that the Capitol police who responded are not being paid.

“Today we are wearing buttons that say thank you to the Capitol Police,’’ said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.). “This is a nice gesture, but we should also think about the hypocrisy of this. It is time for the United States Congress to not just pass out buttons saying thank you, but pass out paychecks to the Capitol Police officers who are protecting us and not getting paid during this shutdown.”’

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said the incident showed how urgent it is for Congress to pass her legislation that would expand mental healthcare. “After each one of these tragedies, everyone talks about improving mental health services in America,’’ she said. “It’s time to finally take action to do that.”

Times staff writer Matt Hamilton, in Los Angeles, contributed to this report.

Capitol shooting

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.”

us capitol lockdown

(CNN) – Uniformed secret service agent first encountered the woman in the black car near the White House, a federal law enforcement source tells John King.

An intelligence source tells Deb Feyerick the car was stopped at a White House checkpoint and words were exchanged between the woman and an officer blocking access. Driver initially ignored demands to turn away from the restricted zone, the source says.

The driver sped away, both sources said.

Per protocol, the presidential protective detail was immediately notified because of the proximity to the White House.

Close to the Capitol, the woman’s car hit a police cruiser, injuring the officer inside and the airbag in that police car deployed, the intelligence source says.

Because of the driver refused to stop and drove in a threatening manner — and the location — use of force was authorized, according to the law enforcement source.

Multiple shots fired, per both sources.

Multiple sources tell CNN it is not believed at this point that any shots were fired from the car.

The driver was hit . A child in the car was removed by police.

us capitol lockdown2

Washington (CNN) — Police near the U.S. Capitol opened fire Thursday on a car being chased by authorities from near the White House, hitting a woman driving the vehicle that also contained a child, an intelligence source told CNN.

The child appeared to be uninjured, according to the source and witnesses.

The chaotic scene, with gunfire erupting near the heart of the U.S. government, brought a swarm of emergency vehicles and caused Congress and surrounding offices to be temporarily locked down.

Police also closed Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.

CNN’s Athena Jones, who was at a Senate office building near the Capitol, said she heard gunshots that sounded like fireworks.

The FBI dispatched units in response to reports of shots near Garfield Circle, which is on the Senate side of the Capitol.

CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash learned that one person was injured. No further details were immediately available.

House and Senate sessions were immediately suspended.

A Capital Police bulletin said reports of gunshots required “all occupants in all House office buildings to shelter in place.”

“Close, lock and stay away from external doors and windows,” the bulletin said.

Authorities later lifted the lockdown.

President Barack Obama was briefed on the situation. An intelligence source says so far, there is no tie to terrorism.

us capitol lockdown1

By Richard Simon, Michael A. Memoli and Lisa Mascaro, Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON – Gunshots were fired near the U.S. Capitol after police chased a vehicle that had slammed into a security ballard on Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House.

Police surrounded the vehicle Thursday afternoon on Constitution Avenue near the U.S. Capitol and the Supreme Court. Gunfire was exchanged and the suspect was killed, according to law enforcement sources. Police said at least one officer was injured in the volley. He was brought out on a gurney and transported in a helicopter.

CNN reported that an intelligence source said there was a child in the car that led the chase.

“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. 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 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.”

us capitol lockdown

 

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