On Thursday there was a dramatic car chase through the streets of Washington from near the White House to the U.S. Capitol that ended in gunfire when law enforcement officers shot and killed the driver as lawmakers and aides huddled in a lockdown.
The 34-year-old woman, identified as Miriam Carey, was killed in a flurry of police bullets outside the US Senate after driving towards Congress and becoming ensnared at a security checkpoint.
Law enforcement officials think Carey was with her 1-year-old daughter sitting behind her, who flattened barricades outside the White House, struck officers and then set off at high speed down Pennsylvania Avenue.
The pursuit began when the car sped onto a driveway leading to the White House, over a set of lowered barricades. When the driver couldn’t get through a second barrier, she spun the car in the opposite direction, flipping a Secret Service officer over the hood of the car as she sped away, said B.J. Campbell, a tourist from Portland, Ore. Then the chase began.
Police said there was no indication of a link to terrorism and said it appeared to be “an isolated incident with this one vehicle involved”. It was not clear if Carey was armed but she is not believed to have opened fire.
However, the initial portrait of Carey that emerged suggested a person unlikely to be found in the center of such violence. Carey, according to public documents, friends and family members, had finished college and established a work history as a dental hygienist, reports the Washington Post.
A one-year-old girl was removed from the car by police after the shooting and is in “good condition”, police said.
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.”
Former bossÂ Dr. Barry J. Weiss told The New York TimesÂ that he and his partner fired Miriam Carey from their periodontics practice last year and cited her “temper” but would not go into detail.
Her sister, Amy Carey, a Brooklyn nurse, was incredulous when she was reached Thursday afternoon and told what had happened.
â€śThatâ€™s impossible. She works, she holds a job,â€ť said Amy Carey, who confirmed that her Stamford-based sister drove a black car. â€śShe wouldnâ€™t be in D.C. She was just in Connecticut two days ago, I spoke to her. .â€‰.â€‰. I donâ€™t know whatâ€™s happening. I canâ€™t answer any more.â€ť
Chief Cathy Lanier of Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department said “this does not appear to be in any way an accident” but would not speculate on the suspect’s motive.
The incident, which comes two weeks after a gunman killed 12 people at the nearby Washington Navy Yard, began shortly before 2.30pm on the east side of the White House, says the Telegraph.