Tension Turns to Chaos After Shooting Near Capitol

Police cordon off the corner of the Contitution Ave and First St after shots fired were reported near 2nd Street NW and Constitution Avenue on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on October 3, 2013. The US Capitol was placed on security lockdown Thursday after shots were fired outside the complex, senators said. 'Shots fired outside the Capitol. We are in temporary lock down,' Senator Claire McCaskill said on Twitter. Police were seen running within the Capitol building and outside as vehicles swarmed to the scene.
National Journal
Tim Alberta, Elahe Izadi and Billy House
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Tim Alberta and Elahe Izadi Billy House
Oct. 3, 2013, 4:42 p.m.

Ten­sion over the budget im­passe ab­ruptly turned to chaos on Cap­it­ol Hill Thursday, as a wo­man was shot and killed by po­lice after a fierce car chase, with her 1-year-old child as a pas­sen­ger.

But many ques­tions were un­answered late Thursday, hours after the U.S. House gave Cap­it­ol Po­lice and oth­er law en­force­ment of­ficers a stand­ing ova­tion in the cham­ber when the epis­ode was fin­ished.

Mul­tiple news ac­counts named the wo­man as Miri­am Carey, a 34-year-old dent­al hy­gien­ist from Stam­ford, Conn., who re­portedly worked in Con­necti­c­ut pris­ons. Why the wo­man hit a White House se­cur­ity bar­ri­er with her car and fled af­ter­ward, pre­cip­it­at­ing the chase from the White House to the Cap­it­ol area, re­mained un­clear. She did not have a gun, a law en­force­ment of­ficer con­firmed, and the ex­act de­tails of her shoot­ing were not be­ing re­leased.

One Cap­it­ol Po­lice of­ficer and one Secret Ser­vice of­ficer were in­jured in the in­cid­ent. The of­ficer was hurt after his car hit a bar­ri­cade in the pur­suit, and the Secret Ser­vice of­ficer was in­jured when struck by the wo­man’s car, po­lice said. The child, a girl, was brought in­to the Cap­it­ol be­fore be­ing trans­ferred to a hos­pit­al, an is in good con­di­tion in pro­tect­ive cus­tody, au­thor­it­ies said dur­ing a Thursday night press con­fer­ence.

D.C. Po­lice Chief Cathy Lan­i­er de­clined to com­ment on de­tails of how and why the wo­man was shot. Lan­i­er said the event was be­lieved to be an isol­ated in­cid­ent, but that it was no “ac­ci­dent.” She and U.S. Cap­it­ol Po­lice Chief Kim Dine de­clined to elab­or­ate.

The chase began when the wo­man ac­ted sus­pi­ciously and ig­nored law en­force­ment’s in­struc­tions, ac­cord­ing to Sen­ate Ser­geant-at-Arms Terry Gain­er. She struck a White House se­cur­ity bar­ri­er and was chased by Secret Ser­vice agents un­til the pur­suit ended on Con­necti­c­ut Av­en­ue just be­low Cap­it­ol Hill.

There were two epis­odes of gun­fire along the path of the 12-block chase, both in­volving mul­tiple shots, a law en­force­ment of­fi­cial said. All the shots were fired by po­lice try­ing to stop her, the of­fi­cial said. “A car can be a deadly weapon,” one of­ficer re­marked.

At least one law­maker said more de­tails of the shoot­ing should be re­leased. “As a law­yer, if I were rep­res­ent­ing her fam­ily, [I would] call for a com­plete in­vest­ig­a­tion,” said Rep. Al­cee Hast­ings, D-Fla. He ad­ded that he can only hope “the baby doesn’t have memor­ies of this. I sure do hope that. No dis­respect to the po­lice in­volved. But boy, I tell you—I live in South Flor­ida and those chases cause im­meas­ur­able dam­age.”

Many law­makers were in­side the House cham­ber when word of the shoot­ing out­side promp­ted a lock­down of the build­ing. Un­cer­tainty pre­vailed about what was go­ing on; some law­makers on the floor first learned of the shots from Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi, D-Cal­if., who went mem­ber-to-mem­ber to let them know. House and Sen­ate of­fice build­ings also went in­to a lock-down.

Rep. Ger­ald Con­nolly, D-Va., had been on the bal­cony of the Speak­er’s Lobby, talk­ing with Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., about the gov­ern­ment shut­down when he heard a com­mo­tion com­ing from the dir­ec­tion of the Ray­burn build­ing.

“It soun­ded like fire­works, a big fire­works dis­play, and then we real­ized, that’s not fire­works,” Con­nolly said. “It soun­ded more like the first vol­ley of a 21-gun sa­lute — sev­en-sev­en-sev­en — be­cause it was very close to­geth­er, a loud burst.”

Con­nolly saw “armed po­lice with their weapons drawn” run­ning to­ward Ray­burn, while people ran in the oth­er dir­ec­tion to­ward the Cap­it­ol.

The Cap­it­ol Com­plex was in lock­down only briefly, and was re­opened quickly. An ar­mored vehicle sat on the plaza, but tour­ists with bikes were walk­ing about as well. A Cap­it­ol Po­lice car that had ob­vi­ously been in­volved with a crash was at the corner of Con­sti­tu­tion and First Streets NW and cor­doned off.

The Cap­it­ol Po­lice of­ficer was taken by heli­copter to the hos­pit­al, but “does not ap­pear to have life-threat­en­ing in­jur­ies,” Gain­er said.

“Thank­fully,” Gain­er also said, “it does not ap­pear to be ter­ror­ism-re­lated.”

Michael Catalin contributed to this article.
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