The female suspect who allegedly attempted to breach a White House security barrier Thursday has been pronounced dead from gunshot wounds, after she was chased in her car by U.S. Capitol police. She was rebuffed and initiated a high-speed chase to the Capitol, where at least one officer was shot. The Connecticut woman was shot several times.
This happened just two weeks after a disturbed gunman killed 12 at the D.C. Navy Yard, and two days after much of the nation’s government was shut down over a political budget fight.
Many shots were fired, apparently all by U.S. Capitol police attempting to halt the driver, who was injured near the corner of Constitution Avenue and 2nd Street N.W. around 2 p.m.
U.S. Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine said a child recovered in the car with the suspect.
A shelter-in-place warning was placed on all U.S. Senate office buildings for more than an hour after multiple shots fired in the area. Initially, the condition of the female assailant differed according to various reports. According to The Associated Press, the female suspect was in police custody. ABC News and Reuters reported that the woman was dead.
“We have no information that this is related to terrorism or is anything other than an isolated incident,” a police sergeant told reporters.
In a frightening scene that sent people running for cover, officers swarmed the Capitol grounds with guns drawn. Yahoo News reporter Chris Moody said he was outside the U.S. Capitol when he heard three shots ring out.
The chase and the shootings initiated a brief lockdown in the Capitol, which was replete with lawmakers and staff focused on the ongoing government shutdown. Officers ran through the ornate hallways carrying semiautomatic weapons. But no one in the Capitol complex was hurt, and the House resumed its business before 4 p.m.
“We have no information that this is related to terrorism, or is anything other than an isolated incident,” Dine said. He gave no information on the driver’s identity, or a possible motive.
Capitol Police told tourists and staffers near the Capitol Building to walk south past the U.S. House’s congressional offices, as all buildings were locked down.
Tim Wilson, a spokesperson with the District of Columbia Fire and EMS Department, told Yahoo News that medical personnel transported one patient from the scene who suffered life-threatening injuries. He would not give the gender of the patient or the nature of the injuries.
One eyewitness told Yahoo News she saw a black car being chased by police and they surrounded the suspect when the shots rang out.
“Police were shooting at [the car],” a witness told Yahoo News. “They had [the driver] blocked up and he kept going around the Capitol building and around and around. Then I heard a loud crash on the other side of the Capitol.”
Another witness said police began shooting when the car sped off after being trapped.
“We saw a black car and a couple of cop cars behind him,” that witness said. “He kind of got stuck in front of the Capitol building where the pillars are. The cops got out of their car and surrounded [the suspect] and started yelling. Somehow [the car] turned around and almost hit a couple of them and that’s when the cops started shooting.”
Added another witness, Giancarlo Refalo, a tourist from Malta, told the Washington Post: “At first I thought the driver was trying to get out of the way of police but then I realized he was being chased.”
Refalo said he heard several gunshots followed by “lots of screaming and shouting.” Then the black vehicle came back on 1st Street toward Constitution, chased by police. “They were swerving all over the place,” he said “by that time I was hiding in the bushes because I was so scared.”
This latest violence in the nation’s capital comes just two weeks after Aaron Alexis, a former Navy reservist with a history of mental illness, made his way onto secure Navy Yard grounds and killed a dozen people before being shot to death.