Wild car chase ends with suspect shot to death near U.S. Capitol

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WASHINGTON -- 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 was left with unanswered questions.

Why did this happen? Why did the woman drive away from the White House and toward the Capitol?

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."

Officials, 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 wanted to speak with the suspect's relatives in Brooklyn, New York, but were turned away, 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 near the White House.

A U.S. Secret Service source said when the woman drove up to a barrier at the 15th and E street checkpoint, she was approached by Secret Service officers who did not recognize her car.

The motorist hurriedly tried to drive away, executed a 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.

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. Officers did not know a child was inside during the chase, officials said.

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 released from a local hospital Thursday night. The Secret Service did not release information about its injured agent.

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."

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  • Anonymous

    Those cops look like rabid wolves. Not a one of them could wait to pull that trigger and end a life. Do they expect us to believe that a whole police force couldn’t have apprehended this woman peacefully instead of killing her in front of her child? Just another feather in the cap for the largest gang in the world.

  • Deanster

    Really, REALLY bad police work. The whole story sounds like the cops were a bunch of teenage rookies panicking like Godzilla was stomping along down by the White House. Pathetic. The woman may well have been psychotic or having a psychotic moment.

  • Jello Beyonce

    The U.S. is a nation of cowards. The nations “leaders” cowering under desks, in hallways, etc. and all because some big bad woman was driving erratically.

    And how many stupid pigs did it take to bring this woman down?

    If there weren’t witnesses/video, this lady would’ve been reported as a bomb carrying terrorist.

  • pleazure

    I agree. Ending this woman’s life just seems like over-kill. No pun intended. She was unarmed and no threat. I think that OBummer is losing his mind and thinks that he can get away with murder.

  • aebe

    Overkill , in the town where your rights are meaningless . the woman’s only known weapon , her car , was no longer functional . Unsurprisingly , it is unlikely to be known what her problem was . Terrorism ? Diabetes ? Dunno . Paid by progressives for the O’Bummer ?

    Validate your 2nd Amendment Rights . Carry

  • Danika

    I dont think it has anything to do with Obama. Thats ridiculous! But ya they could have waited instead of right away firing. But then again it is the United States capitol, and you just never know these days….

  • 1w/somememory

    Really, are you serious? What did Obama have to do with it? It was the police and, by the way, it appears she left the White House and was heading to the Capitol where amazingly some members of Congress thanked the police for the protection. What short memories we have, Boston Marathon wasn’t that long ago.

  • Gabi

    upsets me because they think they can just shoot because they want to they should’ve been more careful especially with a toddler in the car. when I hear this lady making up all these excuses makes me want to punch her in the face.

  • leroy jenkins

    Luckily for D.C. she was an amateur. Imagine if a group of “Pros” wanted to create some mayhem. The cops look like unprepared, untrained morons.

  • j

    @ Anonymous

    ” rabid wolves” Really???? Did you see the video where she is trying to run over police officer’s with her car?

  • J will

    @ Anonymous rabid wolves really?

    Are you really that dim? She just rammed the gates of the White House then tried to run over several police officer before they were force to open fire. That car was a weapon. She chose her own fate

    All the officers on the scene knew was that a car was trying to ram its way onto the White House and then the Capital grounds. I don’t care who you are if your ram your car into the white house gate, expect to go down and to go down hard.

  • J will

    @ Ana C

    Shooting out tires does NOT stop a car and it’s extremely difficult to shoot out tires on a moving vehicle. Have you ever in your life tried to shoot out the tires on a moving vehicle? No, I do not think you have! Do you know where the bullet will ricochet after it hits the metal wheel? No, I do not think you do!

    This isn’t the movies, Shooting out tires is a lot harder than it looks. And I guess we have never seen suspects driving on rims in police chase videos….. right?

  • Dave Dooley

    Amazing how the people with the most “expertise” have never been in public safety. Think how much safer we’d be if these “experts” were out there protecting us all.

  • Brent Johnson

    It’s crazy to think that police couldn’t have blocked the car or used stun guns or even a night stick on an unarmed woman and her baby. If the police had shot the baby there wouldn’t have been any question at to if the police over reacted. I believe that the police should be tried for murder and that DC be sued for millions to take care of the child and for robbing the baby of it’s mother. The congressmen in the building caused more people to suffer by causing a shutdown than the poor woman did. If I had a baby in the back seat and a bunch of men started pointing guns at me, I might try to take off too in order to save the baby from possible gunfire – which they did anyway.

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