WASHINGTON, October 3 (RIA Novosti) – A woman who rammed her car into a White House security barricade Thursday and led police on a wild, high-speed chase toward Capitol Hill that sent lawmakers and tourists scrambling for cover, was shot and killed by police near the Capitol, law enforcement officials said.
The woman, identified in media reports as 34-year-old Miriam Carey of Stamford, Connecticut, had a history of mental health issues, according to ABC News.
“There was a one-year-old child in the car… one of our officers rescued the child,” US Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine told reporters at an impromptu outdoor press conference, adding that the child was taken to the hospital and is in good condition.
Washington Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier told reporters that shots were fired in two locations and that two officers were injured – a Secret Service officer hit by the woman’s car, and a Capitol Police officer hurt when he slammed his car into a barricade during the chase. Neither officer was seriously hurt.
“At the White House and at the Capitol the security perimeters worked. They did exactly what they were supposed to do,” Lanier said.
The incident is believed to be an isolated act unrelated to terrorism, said Dine.
“This does not appear to be in any way an accident. There were two security perimeters that were attempted to be breached,” said Lanier.
The US Capitol was placed on lockdown for a short time after the gunfire in the vicinity.
California Congressman Juan Vargas told reporters near the scene that he was walking back to the Capitol and heard two or three pops but thought nothing of it until a police officer came running up to him "with a really serious look on his face.”
Vargas said the officer checked his identification and told him two policemen were "down" and to take shelter.
A tourist from Canada who didn't want to give her name told RIA Novosti, "We heard about three or four shots in front of the Capitol building and less than a minute later four shots from the other side and then everyone just started running. Armed policemen came out of nowhere and they told us to get down.”
As a warning alarm sounded inside the Capitol after the reports of gunfire, the US House of Representatives abruptly went into recess and the Senate also suspended business, The Associated Press reported.
The incident happened in the midst of a US government shutdown as Congress has been involved in a heated debate over funding the government. Members of Congress and aides, deemed “essential” government personnel, were however working when the incident took place.
US President Barack Obama was briefed about the reports of gunfire, according to a White House statement.
Thursday’s shooting comes two weeks after an armed man opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard, leaving 13 people dead including the gunman.
Story updated with quotes from police officials and new information throughout