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Car chase, gunfire trigger lockdown at US Capitol

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-10-03

The US Capitol and the White House went into brief lockdown Thursday after a police chase through Washington, D.C. ended in gunfire, police said. A female suspect was pursued after she allegedly tried to ram a security barrier near the White House.

The US Capitol and the White House went into a brief lockdown Thursday after a police chase through central Washington, D.C. ended in a barrage of gunfire.

Police gave chase after a female suspect allegedly tried to ram a security barrier near the White House.

Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine said the driver was in custody but did not disclose her condition. One US official and various media outlets said the woman had been killed in the shooting.

A child may also have been in the car, Dine told journalists.

PICTURE POSTED BY TWITTER USER AT THE SCENE

"We are still investigating that," he told a press conference. "Possibly we believe that there was a child in the car."

He said there were no indications that the shooting was related to terrorism or that it was "anything other than an isolated incident".

The pursuit began when the suspect’s car tried to ram through a security barricade near the White House, a law enforcement official told AP.

Witnesses said at least 20 police vehicles chased the black car toward Capitol Hill, where the car crashed outside the Capitol.

A police officer was injured in the traffic accident.

People 'taking cover'

The hail of gunfire sent lawmakers and passersby outside the Capitol running for cover.

Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania told reporters he was walking from the Capitol to the Russell Senate Office Building across the street when he noticed several police officers on motorcycles racing up Constitution Avenue.

“We heard three, four, five pops,” Casey said, which he said he assumed were gunshots. He said police ordered him and some nearby tourists to crouch behind a car for protection.

Emergency vehicles also converged on the scene, focused on the north side of the iconic landmark building.

An AFP photographer saw at least one person receiving emergency medical assistance on the north side of the complex, but there was no immediate official word of casualties.

"We saw people dropping to the ground. Not hit – taking cover," said Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

Just over a mile away, the White House was also placed in lockdown, with Secret Service agents in tactical gear deploying around the building.

Outside the Dirksen office building, which houses the offices of several senators, staff members not furloughed by the government shutdown could be seen taking cover behind trees and vehicles.

Every minute or so, the Capitol Police repeated a loudspeaker announcement: "If you are in an office building, remain sheltered in place."

The security lockdown at the Capitol was lifted and the doors reopened about an hour after the shooting.

The incident comes just over two weeks after 12 people were killed in a shooting at a nearby Navy Yard.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

 

Date created : 2013-10-03

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