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Americas

Driver shot dead after car chase near White House

© Photo: AFP

Video by Luke SHRAGO

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-10-04

A dramatic car chase through the streets of Washington, DC on Thursday ended with the driver being shot dead by law enforcement officers near the US Capitol, after she had tried to ram security barriers outside the White House.

A woman was shot dead by law enforcement officers near the US Capitol building in Washington, DC on Thursday after leading police and Secret Service on a dramatic car chase through the city that started when she tried to ram security barricades outside the White House.

The incident rattled the capital less than three weeks after a mentally disturbed employee terrorized Washington's Navy Yard with a shotgun, leaving 13 people dead, including the gunman.

The driver was identified by law enforcement officials as Miriam Carey, 34, of Connecticut. A one-year-old girl was also in the car with the woman, but she was unharmed.

The pursuit began when the car sped onto a driveway leading to the White House, over a set of lowered barricades. When the driver could not get through a second barrier, she spun the car in the opposite direction, hitting a Secret Service officer as she sped away, a witness told the AP news agency.

Police and Secret Service vehicles then pursued the car, a black Infiniti, as it raced up Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol where Congress was in session with lawmakers trying to find a solution to the budget impasse that partially shut down the US government this week.

At one point the woman’s car had been surrounded by police cars but she managed to escape, with video shot by a TV camerman showed police pointing firearms at her car before she rammed a Secret Service vehicle and continued driving.

The car eventually came to a halt near the Capitol building, said Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine, at which point the driver was shot and killed.

Lawmakers and tourists take cover

A few senators between the Capitol and their office buildings said they heard the shots.

“We heard three, four, five pops,” said Democratic Senator Bob Casey. Police ordered Casey and nearby tourists to take cover behind a car for protection, then hustled everyone into the Capitol.

Another witness, Whit Dabney, 13, who was visiting Washington from Louisville, Kentucky, said he had heard the shots a couple of blocks away.

"I was just eating a hot dog over here and I heard about four or five gunshots, and then a swarm of police cars came in wailing their sirens," he told Reuters.

Dine said an officer took the child from the car to a hospital. She is in good condition and under protective custody, officials said.

In all, the pursuit ranged over about a mile and a half and lasted just a few minutes, officials said.

One Secret Service member and a 23-year veteran of the Capitol Police were injured in the chase. Officials said they are in good condition and expected to recover.

All the shooting appears to have been done by police. Law enforcement sources said the suspect did not shoot a gun and there is no indication she had one.

Dine said that the incident appears to have been “an isolated, singular matter” with no suggestion of links to terrorism.

'Mental health issues'

Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, told CNN that officials believed the woman driving the car may have had mental health problems.

“I got that from multiple sources – that they think she may have had some mental health issues,” he said. “Obviously the way she responded at the gate near the White House and then turning around and hitting Secret Service.”

Hours after the woman’s fatal encounter with officers, the FBI and other agencies were conducting a search of the sprawling condo complex in Stamford, Connecticut, where neighbors say she lived.

Despite the government shutdown, Capitol police – deemed” essential” staff – were at work, even though they are not being paid. The Capitol was under lockdown for about an hour during the incident.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-10-04

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