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White House to Capitol police chase ends in death of driver

Andres Rodriguez
Capitol shooting

WASHINGTON – Police shot and killed a woman Thursday after she rammed a security barricade at the White House, then sped down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol.

Two police officers were injured, neither seriously.

The Capitol and House and Senate office buildings were locked down for about an hour, and startled tourists – some lounging on the West Lawn of the Capitol – were rushed away or told to lie flat. Videos shot by news crews and others showed the black car just yards away from tourists as police chased it around Garfield Circle at the foot of Capitol Hill.

Police said they were not ready to release anything about the woman who was driving a car. But they said they removed a child about a year old from the car and took her into protective custody. She was not injured.

U.S. Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine said at a late afternoon press conference on the street near where the first shots were fired that police responded quickly and behaved “heroically.”

“It appears that all around the Capitol security worked very well,” Dine said.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said that shots were fired at two locations – at the foot of Capitol Hill and in the 100 block of Maryland Avenue, which intersects Constitution Avenue near the Hart Senate Office Building and the Supreme Court.

She and officials from the U.S. Secret Service and FBI emphasized that barriers near the White House and the Capitol worked, although at least one police car and perhaps the suspect’s car hit barriers at the Capitol or went around them.

Lanier said the incident “does not appear in any way to be an accident.”

During the chase she said multiple cars were rammed, including two police cars.

She would not comment on whether the suspect was armed.

At the White House bollards block both the 1600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue and E Street on the south side of the White House. The car initially rammed a barricade at 15th and E streets NW. On Capitol Hill, steel barriers are recessed into the street but can be raised to block cars during emergencies.

Lanier said that two cars may have struck the barriers on the Hill and made it around – video shown on local TV showed a police car hitting a barrier.

Frank Schwing, 57, a D.C. resident who works for NOAA was near the Capitol enjoying a warm day while he was furloughed because of the government shutdown.

“About two minutes later we heard a loud ‘bang,’ which we presumed was a crash,” he said. “My immediate thought was, is this another one of those events that we’ve been seeing happening much too frequently?”

It’s been just over two weeks since a gunman killed 12 people at the Navy Yard, a few blocks south of the Capitol.

The mayor and three other Alice, Texas, officials were visiting their congressman Thursday to talk about the government shutdown, but they ended up locked in his office as police fired shots a car they were chasing around the Capitol.

“At least the people working at the Capitol are safe,” Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Texas, said after the all-clear was sounded about an hour after the Capitol and House and Senate office buildings were locked down.

While they were locked down, they continued their meeting and watched CNN for reports about what was going on outside.

The Alice office holders said the event was frightening, especially because of the recent shootings at the Navy Yard and the government shutdown.

They asked Vela, who left immediately after the all-clear for a meeting, if he lived near the Navy Yard. He does not.

Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, said he had just returned to his office before the shooting occurred.

An intern was out doing an errand when the Cannon House Office Building was locked down. She knocked on the door shortly after and they let her in. Farenthold said he told his staff to call their families to let them know they were safe.

“The timing on this is really kind of scary. The Capitol Hill Police area at low personnel level because of the shutdown,” Farenthold said.



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White House to Capitol police chase ends in death of driver