Driver shot dead in car chase near U.S. Capitol

Reuters

By Richard Cowan and Margaret Chadbourn

WASHINGTON, Oct 3 (Reuters) - A dramatic car chase throughthe streets of Washington from near the White House to the U.S.Capitol ended in gunfire on Thursday when law enforcementofficers shot and killed the driver as lawmakers and aideshuddled in a lockdown.

The incident rattled Washington less than three weeks aftera government contractor opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard,about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the Capitol, killing 12 people andwounding three others before he was shot to death by police.

The car involved in the chase was registered to MiriamCarey, 34, of Connecticut, and law enforcement officials believeshe was the driver, the Washington Post reported, citingofficials. NBC News also identified the driver as Carey.

Reached by phone at Washington's Metropolitan Policeheadquarters, a police officer confirmed that Carey was thedriver, but declined to provide his name.

"The suspect in the vehicle was struck by gunfire,"Washington's police chief, Cathy Lanier, told reporters.

Driving a black car, the woman rammed security barricades"at the very outer perimeter of the White House," U.S. SecretService spokesman Ed Donovan said. Then the car, carrying a1-year-old girl, raced up Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitolwhere Congress was in session.

Police chased and fired at the car. It came to a halt nearthe Capitol building, said Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine.

"My understanding is there was a 1-year-old child in thecar," Dine said. "I believe one of our officers rescued thechild," who was taken to a hospital.

It appeared there was no connection to terrorism, Dine saidof the incident.

Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House of RepresentativesHomeland Security Committee, told CNN that officials believedthe woman driving the car may have had mental health problems.

"I got that from multiple sources - that they think she mayhave had some mental health issues," he said. "Obviously the wayshe responded at the gate near the White House and then turningaround and hitting Secret Service."

The woman was a resident of Connecticut and the girl in thecar was her daughter, McCaul said.

Hours after the woman's fatal encounter with officers, theFBI and other agencies were conducting a search of the sprawlingcondo complex in Stamford, Connecticut, where neighbors say shelived. Dozens of neighbors were forced to wait outside.

They drank coffee and some talked on cell phones trying toarrange to stay with friends and relatives.

"When we got home late this afternoon, there were threehelicopters flying above, there were Haz-Mat (hazardousmaterials) trucks and bomb-squad trucks coming in, and policewere telling people to get out of their condos," said KrystaValentine, 29, a resident of the area who said she had seenCarey at times.

When the shooting erupted outside the Capitol building,lawmakers were trying to find a solution to a budget impassethat partially shut down the U.S. government this week. TheCapitol was locked down for about an hour during the incident.

Lawmakers were told to shelter in place on the floor of theHouse. Outside, some tourists were frightened.

"I was just eating a hot dog over here and I heard aboutfour or five gunshots, and then a swarm of police cars came inwailing their sirens," said Whit Dabney, 13, who was visitingWashington from Louisville, Kentucky, and heard the shots acouple of blocks away.

Witness Travis Gilbert said several police cars chased theblack car at high speed toward the Capitol.

"They ran all the red lights. It was a very dangeroussituation," Gilbert said.

HIT BY CAR

Two officers were hurt in Thursday's incident. One was aSecret Service officer who was struck by the suspect's caroutside the White House, Donovan said.

The other was a Capitol Police officer whose car struck abarricade during the mid-afternoon chase. It ranged over about amile and a half (2.4 km) and lasted just a few minutes,officials said.

All the shooting appears to have been done by police. Lawenforcement sources said the suspect did not shoot a gun andthere is no indication she had one.

Just before the Capitol lockdown, Senator John McCain ofArizona was on the Senate floor urging that President BarackObama and a bipartisan group of senators launch negotiations tobreak the deadlock over government funding and a debt limitincrease.

The House had just passed a bill to fund the National Guardand reservists who are not on active duty during the shutdown.

The Capitol police, who were deemed "essential" staff, wereat work despite the government shutdown, but they are not beingpaid.

"What really comes home to me is that these are all peoplewho are working without pay right now," Representative MattCartwright, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, said on CNN. He wasoutside on a Capitol balcony when he said he heard seven oreight shots "all in less than a second."

Obama was briefed on the incident, a White House officialsaid, providing no further details.

Security is tight near the Capitol, but there have beenprevious shootings in the area. In 1998, a gunman burst througha security checkpoint at the Capitol and killed two CapitolPolice officers in an exchange of fire that sent tourists andother bystanders diving for cover. The suspect, Russell EugeneWeston Jr., was not charged with a crime because of apparentmental instability.

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