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Police chase near White House, Capitol ends with crash, fatal shooting
Question of the Day
A woman with a year-old child attempted to crash through the White House perimeter with her car, then led Secret Service and police on a harrowing chase down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol before she was fatally shot Thursday in an incident that rattled nerves and tested Washington’s security during the government shutdown.
The midday drama sent bystanders scurrying for cover as gunshots rang out and heavily armed officers ran toward the scene where the woman’s car smashed a police cruiser before crashing. An officer pulled a child from the wreckage, apparently unharmed by the accident and gunfire. The child was taken to a hospital and was in protective custody Thursday night.
Police suggested that the incident, less than three weeks after a fatal shooting at the Navy Yard, showed the Washington security system worked perfectly even with the shutdown.
“Both at the White House and the Capitol, the security perimeters worked. They did exactly what they were supposed to do and they stopped a suspect from breaching the security perimeter in a vehicle at both locations,” Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said at a late-afternoon briefing.
But questions were certain to persist, including what motivated the woman to begin the rampage, why Secret Service agents were unable to stop her car at the beginning of the incident and whether officers were justified in shooting a woman who apparently was unarmed and had a child inside her car.
U.S. Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine said officials did not think the incident was a case of terrorism.
“This appears to be an isolated, singular matter with — at this point — no nexus to terrorism,” he said. Chief Lanier also would not speculate on motive, saying only that it did “not appear in any way that this was an accident.”
The events occurred against the backdrop of a government shutdown that left 800,000 federal workers furloughed and a Homeland Security Department that is without a nominated secretary and several other top positions.
Authorities did not name the woman, but law enforcement officials confirmed the car was registered to a 34-year-old Connecticut woman and said police were searching a Stamford, Conn., home in connection with the investigation. The Associated Press, citing law-enforcement sources, identified the woman as Miriam Carey.
Officials said the incident began at about 2:12 p.m., when the woman struck temporary security fencing in a black Infiniti with Connecticut license plates and hit a uniformed Secret Service officer at an outer checkpoint for the White House. She sped down Pennsylvania Avenue, ramming her car into a Secret Service vehicle along the route.
The woman continued on to Garfield Circle — just outside the west entrance of the U.S. Capitol. A video taken at the scene shows officers with guns drawn approaching her stopped car. The car can be seen taking off as officers fired at her.
Police intercepted her again a few blocks away after she crashed her car in the 100 block of Maryland Avenue of Northeast, and opened fire on her for the final time.
One U.S. Capitol Police officer was injured when he crashed into a barrier during the pursuit. The officer, a 23-year-veteran, was airlifted to a hospital by the same U.S. Park Police chopper unit that two weeks earlier plucked victims off the roof of the Navy Yard during a shooting that left 13 dead, including the gunman.
The Capitol Police officer and the Secret Service officer were doing well Thursday night, officials said.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Nevada Democrat called the injured Capitol Police officer and spoke with him in the hospital.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
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Andrea Noble is a crime and public safety reporter for The Washington Times. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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