Panic in DC after female driver with a child rammed barricades outside the White House before fleeing to the Capitol, crashing into a police car and being shot dead
- Capitol Hill was placed in lockdown after gunshots fired in downtown DC on Thursday
- A child, aged around 2 years, was in the black car with the female suspect, Miriam Carey, 34, who was shot and killed by police officers
- Carey, from Connecticut, ‘did not fire any shots’
- No link to terrorism and believed to be an isolated incident, police said
Terror gripped the nation’s capital this afternoon after a woman rammed her car into a White House barricade and then raced toward Capitol Hill, all with a one-year-old child in the back seat, before she was gunned down by Secret Service agents and Capitol Police officers.
The bizarre incident put the White House and Capitol Hill briefly on lock-down as
officers swarmed the scene with assault rifles and hundreds of staffers and tourists fled in terror or took shelter in buildings at the political heart of Washington D.C.
Multiple news outlets are reporting the woman was Miriam Carey, a 34-year-old dental hygienist from Stamford, Connecticut. She was not armed, but repeatedly rammed law enforcement officers and squad cars with her black Infiniti luxury sedan while racing at speeds up to 80mph.
Despite the location of the incident, authorities say they do no believe Carey had any connection to terrorism and they called the event ‘isolated.’
Officers and federal agents fired at least 15 shots, before killing her within sight of the Capitol Building, just behind the U.S. Supreme Court.
The child was unhurt. She was rescued from the car by Capitol Police and taken to a local hospital, where she was check out and is currently in the custody of child protection officials.
Cary is believed to have a ‘history of mental health issues’, ABC reported. However, it is unknown what caused her to attempt to access several sensitive sites – including the White House.
‘However, I’m pretty confident this is not an accident,’ Metropolitan police chief Cathy L. Lanier said Thursday night.
Both Secret Service agents and Capitol police officers opened fire on the car in at least two locations near the White House and Capitol Hill.
Lanier said Secret Service agents fired on the car when the driver rammed a Secret Service car near the White House.
Later, she was shot dead in the 100 block of Maryland Avenue – behind the Supreme court and within sight of the Capitol.
A police officer was injured during the incident when he drove at speed into a security barricade.
Authorities believe it to be an isolated incident and said that there no links to terrorism. No officers were shot, police said in a news conference at 3.30pm.
President Obama, who was taking part in an engagement in Maryland, has been briefed on the incident.
The pursuit began around 2.15pm when the car sped onto the 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, said B.J. Campbell, a visiting tourist from Portland, Oregon.
Around a dozen police and Secret Service cars chased the Infiniti toward Capitol Hill.
Matthew Coursen was on his way to a legislative office building when the car sped by him.
He said: ‘The car was trying to get away. But it was going over the median and over the curb.
‘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.’
Mr Coursen said: ‘I thought to myself, ”The car is getting blocked in. The car is going to surrender,'” he said.
‘Now the cop has his weapon out. The car kept trying to get away. Then he fired shots.’
No shots were believed to have been fired from the car, according to CNN. A police officer shot the driver before finding the child inside the car.
Eye-witness Frank Schwing, who lives in DC, told reporters that when the vehicle approached the area of the Capitol building, several squad cars stopped it and officers ‘came out with their guns drawn’.
The armed officers tried to open the passenger side door, he said.
Mr Schwing continued: ‘At that point, the driver slammed into reverse, slammed into a cruiser, did a 180 (degree turn), took off, and at that point, there were a half dozen or so shots fired.’
The shooting took place on Pennsylvania Avenue, the route which the President typically walks after inauguration.
As the alert was raised across Capitol Hill at 2.25pm, the House quickly took recess and lawmakers left chamber floor. The Senate immediately suspended business.
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.
A police car was totaled following the car chase in downtown DC as officers took up shooting position around Capitol buildings.
An injured officer was seen being stretchered from the scene before being taken by helicopter for treatment. His injuries were not life-threatening.
It is believed the pursued car, which is worth $40,000, has Connecticut plates.
An order was issued to take shelter on the complex or at the U.S. Supreme Court building.
People standing outside the Supreme Court across the street from Congress were hurried into the court building by authorities.
A lock down was lifted around 30 minutes after being put in place.
Rep. Michael McCaul, (R-Tex), who said he was briefed by the Homeland Security Department, said the woman was killed.
Asked if she was armed, he replied: ‘I don’t think she was. There was no return fire.’
During the lock down, Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo) told MSNBC: ‘We’ve locked the doors. We closed the window shades. And we are awaiting further instructions.
‘We’re more or less cut off here. We’re watching TV and just trying to figure out what happened.’
The officers who responded to the car chase are currently not being paid due to the government shutdown.
The shooting comes just two weeks after a shooting spree at the DC Navy Yard by a mentally deranged former naval employee.
The incident left 12 dead and the gunman who was killed in a shootout with police.