Miriam Carey, an unarmed 34-year-old woman apparently suffering from postpartum depression, was gunned down by police in Washington D.C. yesterday after she attempted to breach barricades outside the White House and Capitol building, unnerving the already tense city during the government shutdown and two weeks after the Navy Yard attack that left 13 dead.
Carey had her one-year-old baby in the back seat of the car during the police chase from the White House to the Capitol, but the child was unharmed. By the time the chase was over, dozens of shots had been fired—the smell of gunpowder filled the air— two officers were injured, and Carey’s body was riddled with police bullets after she managed to get out of the car. Authorities had difficulty identifying her because of the extent of her injuries, according to the New York Times.
The Times reported: “It was not known whether she presented an immediate danger” when she emerged from her car, which is the newspaper’s way of questioning why it was necessary for police to fire repeatedly at the mentally ill, unarmed woman, killing her instantly.
The woman’s mother, Idella Carey, told ABC News that her daughter “had postpartum depression after having [a] baby” last August.
“A few months later, she got sick,” the mother said. “She was depressed. … She was hospitalized.”
After she was identified by authorities as a dental hygienist from Connecticut, her former boss, Dr. Barry J. Weiss told The New York Times that he and his partner fired Carey from their periodontics practice last year after 15 months because she couldn’t get along with other employees in the small office.
“When we confronted her about certain situations within the office, she had a temper,” Weiss said.
According to authorities, the chase began at 2:12 p.m. when Carey, driving a black two-door Infiniti with Connecticut plates, tried to ram through a White House checkpoint at 15th and E streets northwest.
“The guys ran to try to stop her, and she wasn’t going to slow down, so they jumped aside,” B. J. Campbell, a tourist from Portland, Ore., who was standing near the White House, told the Times. “One of the guys grabbed one of those little metal fence sections and shoved it in front of her, across the driveway. She hit the brakes slightly and tried to get around it on the right, but the guy shoved it in front of her again, to try to keep her in.”
He said the woman “hit the gas, ran over the barricade” and hit the officer, who flipped onto the hood of the car and “rolled off into the gutter.”
“After she ran him down, she gunned it, and she just went screaming down Pennsylvania Avenue,” he said. “They were busy calling on their phones, on the radios. It was like poking a hornet nest. There were guys everywhere. I didn’t see anyone with their guns out, but they were sure busy.”
Carey then sped down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol at speeds up to 80 miles per hour and drove through several red lights, law enforcement officials said. When they appeared to have her cornered in front of the western side of the Capitol facing the National Mall, she put the car in reverse when several officers, with their weapons drawn, approached her car.
Officers dodged out of the way and the Infiniti struck a police car and raced up Constitution Avenue, where it crashed into a barrier and Carey got out, stepping into a hail of bullets.
The second-youngest in a churchgoing family of five girls, Carey grew up in an apartment building on Stanley Avenue in East New York, Brooklyn. Her sister Franchette, who still lives in the apartment with their mother, told the Times that she saw Carey this week and she seemed fine.
Though her mother said Carey had postpartum depression following the recent birth of her daughter, she had no history of violence.
Michael Brown, 33, a longtime friend, said he saw Carey on Tuesday evening when she picked up her daughter from her mother’s and she told him she was on her way back to Connecticut.
Brown, who said Carey was known for stylish jeans that she wore with combat boots, described the attractive 34-year-old as “a catch.”
After she was identified, television station WSHU in Fairfield, Conn., reported that “police fire, and other emergency vehicles [have] descended on a Woodside Green Condominiums near Scalzi Park in Stamford Thursday afternoon where the woman [Miriam Carey] allegedly lived. … About 50 apartments were evacuated.”
The Stamford Advocate reported police used a bomb-detecting robot to enter Carey’s unit, 1C at 114 Woodside Green.
“At one point, two plain-clothes officers escorted a woman into the building and emerged a short time later, the woman carrying a small, white dog,” according to the report.