Story Summary

Shots fired on Capitol Hill

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.

 

Story Timeline
Previous Next
This story has 5 updates

By Michael Pearson. Lateef Mungin and Joe Johns, CNN

Authorities investigating why a Connecticut woman rammed barricades and led police on a chase near the U.S. Capitol found medications in her apartment to treat schizophrenia and other mental disorders, a law enforcement source briefed on the investigation said Friday.

miriancarey

The woman was identified by law enforcement sources as Miriam Carey, 34. She was shot dead Thursday in the incident, which played out in one of the most heavily policed places in the world, temporarily locked down Congress and sparked anxiety among tourists and staffers alike.

Two law enforcement officers were injured. Police say Carey rammed barricades and police cruisers and sped down Pennsylvania Avenue before crashing.

She apparently did not have a weapon, but did have a 1-year-old child in the car with her. The child emerged from the chaos unharmed, officials said.

Authorities who searched the apartment in Stamford, Connecticut, found one medication to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and another that is an antidepressant, according to the source.

A law enforcement source involved in the investigation said Thursday that the woman’s boyfriend had told police last winter that she appeared to be delusional.

Authorities have not officially linked the incident to mental illness or any other cause.

The area around Carey’s apartment remained cordoned off Friday.

History of concerns

Carey’s boyfriend contacted police in December saying he feared for the safety of their child, who was 4 months old at the time, according to a law enforcement source involved in the investigation. The boyfriend said the woman was acting delusional, claiming the president had placed Stamford under lockdown and that her house was under electronic surveillance, the source said.

He told police that she was suffering from post-partum depression, was having trouble sleeping and was on medication. Carey underwent a mental health evaluation, said the source, who added that the boyfriend has been questioned by federal authorities about Thursday’s events.

The source told CNN that Carey left a letter addressed to the boyfriend at her apartment and that it appeared to contain white powder. The letter was being tested for hazardous substances.

A car chase, gunshots

Thursday’s drama began around 2 p.m., when the woman steered a black Infiniti near the White House, a U.S. Secret Service source said. She drove up to a barrier at the 15th and E street checkpoint and was approached by Secret Service officers. She hurriedly made an erratic three-point turn, striking the barrier and backing into an officer before driving away, the source told CNN.

Police said the car sped down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol, where security vehicles stopped it at Garfield Circle.

The woman slammed the car into reverse, crashing into a police cruiser, and tried to get away. At that point officers began firing, a witness said.

Dramatic video footage by a videographer for Alhurra TV, a Middle Eastern news outlet financed by the U.S. government, showed the black vehicle then speeding around a nearby traffic circle with a police car in close pursuit and then heading away. The car crashed into more security barriers a few blocks later, witnesses said.

More shots were fired after the vehicle stopped, and the woman was hit several times, said Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier. Carey was later pronounced dead, Lanier said. Two officers were injured.

A Capitol Police officer whose vehicle crashed during the chase was hurt, authorities said. The officer was released from a hospital Thursday night. The Secret Service did not release information about its injured agent.

Chaos and a child in the car

Inside the woman’s car was a 1-year-old child, who was not harmed. The child was taken into protective custody, officials said. Officers didn’t know there was a child inside the woman’s car during the chase, officials said. Also, the early investigation revealed that there was no evidence that the woman had a gun or fired a shot.

The bedlam from the fatal chase reverberated throughout a U.S. Capital already shaken by the recent mass shooting at the Navy Yard in the city and on edge due to tensions over the showdown over shutting down the federal government.

Authorities locked down the Capitol building and other government facilities in the area.

House and Senate sessions were immediately suspended, with legislators ordered to take cover and keep away from windows. Police also closed Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.

Sirens blared as people in and around government office buildings reported hearing gunshots. Bystanders hid in fear.

Shemaiah Ofori-Attah and her hsuband, Edmund, at first thought the speeding black car and sirens were part of a motorcade.

“Then when we heard the gunshots we knew this was something serious, so we just dropped to the ground,” she said.

Danny Farkas, the Alhurra videographer, captured the scene. He said he had a fleeting thought that perhaps the driver had explosives in the car.

“I was surprised at the movie-like quality of what was going on in front of me,” he told CNN’s “New Day.”

Michael Pearson and Lateef Mungin report and wrote from Atlanta; Joe Johns reported from Washington; CNN’s Deborah Feyerick, Evan Perez, Dana Bash, Mike Ahlers, Ted Barrett, Jake Tapper, John King, Aaron Cooper, John Auerbach, Gabe Lamonica, Brian Todd, Martina Stewart, Rose Arce, Tom Cohen and Dan Merica contributed to this report.

TM & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

By Lateef Mungin, CNN

After all the chaos and gunfire, still remains the question: Why did a woman with a young child try to drive into a blocked entrance near the White House?

miriancarey

The woman, identified by law enforcement officials as 34-year-old Miriam Carey, was shot dead Thursday.

But why?

Investigators searched for clues at the woman’s Stamford, Connecticut, home into the evening, law enforcement sources said. Police and bomb squad units surrounded an apartment complex there. But authorities gave little official word on what was found.

Other investigators pressed to speak with the woman’s relatives in Brooklyn, New York, but were turned away, federal law enforcement sources told CNN.

It was unclear Thursday night whether detectives were closer to learning what prompted the mayhem at the U.S. Capitol.

History of concerns

Carey’s boyfriend contacted police in December saying he feared for the safety of their child, who was 4 months old at the time, according to a law enforcement source involved in the investigation. The boyfriend said the woman was acting delusional, claiming the president had placed Stamford under lockdown and that her house was under electronic surveillance, the source said.

He told police that she was suffering from post-partum depression, was having trouble sleeping and was on medication. Carey underwent a mental health evaluation, said the source, who added that the boyfriend has been question by federal authorities about Thursday’s events.

The source told CNN that Carey left a letter addressed to the boyfriend at her apartment and that it appeared to contain white powder. The letter is being tested for hazardous substances.

Federal and local law enforcement agents evacuated Carey’s neighborhood Thursday before searching her apartment in the evening, the source said. Authorities checked her residence for explosives before entering, but none were found.

A car chase, gunshots

Thursday’s drama began around 2 p.m., when the woman steered a black Infiniti near the White House, a U.S. Secret Service source said. She drove up to a barrier at the 15th and E street checkpoint and was approached by Secret Service officers. She hurriedly made an erratic three-point turn, struck the barrier and backed into an officer before driving away, the source told CNN.

Police said the car sped down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol, where security vehicles stopped it at Garfield Circle.

The woman slammed the car into reverse, crashing into a police cruiser, and tried to get away. At that point officers began firing, a witness said.

Dramatic video footage by other witnesses showed the black vehicle then careening around a nearby traffic circle with a police car in close pursuit and then heading away. The car crashed into more security barriers a few blocks later, witnesses said.

More shots were fired after the vehicle stopped, and the woman was hit several times, said Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier. Carey was later pronounced dead, Lanier said. Two officers were injured.

Chaos and a child in the car

Inside the car was a 1-year-old child, who was not harmed. The child was taken into protective custody, officials said. Officers didn’t know there was a child inside the woman’s car during the chase, officials said. Also, the early investigation revealed that there was no evidence that the woman had a gun or fired a shot.

The bedlam from the fatal chase reverberated throughout a U.S. Capital already shaken by the recent mass shooting at the Navy Yard in the city. It came at a time when the government shutdown has hampered some federal agencies.

Authorities lauded the action of police — some of whom aren’t being paid — who responded to the incident.

Because of the government shutdown, U.S. Capitol Police aren’t receiving a paycheck, although they will receive checks once appropriations are restored.

A Capitol Police officer whose vehicle crashed during the chase was hurt, authorities said. The officer was released from a hospital Thursday night. The Secret Service did not release information about its injured agent.

The chase created a scene of blaring sirens, locked-down lawmakers and bystanders hitting the dirt.

House and Senate sessions were immediately suspended, with legislators ordered to take cover and keep away from windows. Police also closed Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.

“The timing on this was really kind of scary,” said Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas. “Capitol Hill police are at a lower personnel level because of the shutdown.”

Tom Cohen wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Deborah Feyerick, Evan Perez, Dana Bash, Mike Ahlers, Ted Barrett, Jake Tapper, John King, Aaron Cooper, John Auerbach, Gabe Lamonica, Brian Todd, Martina Stewart, Rose Arce and Dan Merica contributed to this report.

TM & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

She had a 1-year-old child inside and apparently was unarmed.

Instead, the motorist’s black Infiniti, according to authorities, itself became a weapon Thursday afternoon, first striking a security barrier and U.S. Secret Service officer near the White House before hurtling down some of the capital’s most famous streets, police cruisers in pursuit.

Dramatic video taken minutes later near the U.S. Capitol showed the vehicle backing into a police vehicle before the chase resumed. Gunshots rang through the traffic circle. The motorist was shot by police just a few blocks away.

The woman died. The child was safe and in protective custody. Two officers were injured. Police vehicles were damaged.

And a city heretofore fixated on a partial government shutdown had a pressing question.

Why did this happen?

While U.S. Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine said there appeared to be no evidence of terrorism, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier said, “This does not appear to be in any way an accident.”

CaptureOfficials, who called it an “isolated incident,” were tight-lipped about the suspect and did not name her at an evening briefing.

The early hours of the investigation turned northward Thursday night.

A task force prepared to execute a search warrant at the woman’s Stamford, Connecticut, residence, law enforcement sources said. Police and bomb squad units surrounded an apartment complex.

Authorities also planned to speak with the suspect’s sister in Brooklyn, New York, federal law enforcement sources told CNN.

The chase created a chaotic scene of blaring sirens, locked-down lawmakers and bystanders hitting the dirt.

House and Senate sessions were immediately suspended, with legislators ordered to take cover and keep away from windows. Police also closed Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.

The chase began when the Infiniti hit a barrier on the outer security perimeter of the White House, said Ed Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman. One of the responding officers was hit by the car as it left the scene, he said.

Police said the car sped down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol, where security vehicles stopped it at Garfield Circle.

Frank Schwing, a Washington resident who was near the area, said officers “came out with their guns drawn” and approached the suspect’s vehicle.

“At that point, the driver slammed into reverse, slammed into a cruiser, did a 180 (degree turn), took off,” Schwing told CNN, adding, “at that point, there were a half dozen or so shots fired,” apparently all by small arms from police.

Video footage by other witnesses showed the black vehicle then careening around a nearby traffic circle with a police car in close pursuit and then headed away. Shortly afterward, the black car crashed into security barriers a few blocks away, witnesses said.

Lanier said more shots were fired after the vehicle stopped, and the woman was hit several times. The driver was later pronounced dead, Lanier said.

According to multiple sources, there was no reason so far to believe that the woman fired any shots or even had a weapon.

Lanier, citing the lengthy pursuit, rammed vehicles and an attempt to breach two security perimeters, said the driver’s actions did not appear to be accidental.

Security perimeters at the White House and Capitol worked, Lanier told reporters.

“They did exactly what they were supposed to do,” she said.

A Capitol Police officer whose vehicle crashed during the chase also was hurt, authorities said. The officer was listed in good condition at a local hospital.

Authorities lauded the action of police — some of whom aren’t being paid — who responded to the incident.

Because of the government shutdown, U.S. Capitol Police aren’t receiving a paycheck, although they will receive checks once appropriations are restored.

In Congress, a Capitol 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, with police saying they believed the incident was isolated.

President Barack Obama was briefed on the situation, which occurred on the third day of a government shutdown due to a stalemate in Congress over government funding.

“The timing on this was really kind of scary,” said Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas. “Capitol Hill police are at a lower personnel level because of the shutdown.”
TM & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger says he and his staff have been given the all clear to leave their Capitol Hill offices after a report of shots fired.

Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley was locked in his office with his staff while police on Capitol Hill investigated reports of shots fired.

Advertisement