Police say a woman carrying a small child in her car "rammed" a White House security barricade Thursday, then led Capitol police and Secret Service agents on a high-speed car chase to the U.S. Capitol. She was shot and killed outside Hart Senate Office Building, where the offices of many senators are located.
She has been identified "pending confirmation" by various law enforcement agencies as Miriam Carey, 34, a dental hygienist based in Stamford, Connecticut, who previously lived in Brooklyn, New York.
Here is video of the deceased woman's black sedan in an apparent confrontation with Capitol police.
Miriam Carey, 34, of 114 Woodside Green, drove her black Infiniti coupe onto a driveway leading to the White House, and over a set of lowered barricades. When Carey 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.
She is said to have had a history of mental illness, and her employer told reporters she recently suffered a traumatic brain injury. According to her mother, she had post-partum depression after the birth of a child last August.
NBC News reports that she did not have a gun, or any other weapon in her vehicle. A law enforcement source is quoted as saying she "was using her car as a weapon."
She did not carry identification. News organizations are pointing to this Facebook profile for a "Miriam Carey" as possibly belonging to the deceased woman.
“This appears to be an isolated singular matter with no nexus to terrorism,” said Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine said at an evening news conference, while police and FBI agents searched the building where the woman is understood to have lived in Stamford.
The NY Post reports that the woman identified as the suspect "formerly lived in Brooklyn, was licensed to practice in New York and Connecticut and had a permit to work as a hygienist in Connecticut prisons."
Washington Post reporters were among the first to speak with people who knew Carey. None say they are aware of past behavior that suggests she would attempt to harm anyone, nor are they aware of any connection to Washington, DC or a political motivation.
From the New York Times:
Dr. Brian L. Evans, a periodontist in Hamden, Conn., for whom Ms. Carey had worked until about a year ago, said that he believed that she had suffered a significant head injury sometime during the year she was employed by him.
He described Ms. Carey as having “a bit of a temper,” but “nothing unusual, nothing that would ever lead us to think she would ever do anything like this.”
The child in her black Infiniti, identified as likely being her one-year-old daughter, was retrieved uninjured.
A Capitol police officer and Secret Service division officer were injured, but expected to survive.
The Capitol building was locked down briefly, and all on site were told to shelter in place.
"Close, lock and stay away from external doors and windows. Take annunciators, emergency supply kits and escape hoods; and move to your office's assigned shelter in place location or the innermost part of the office away from external doors or windows," Congressional staffers were told by Capitol Police in an email.
No word yet on what "annunciators" refers to, in this context.
Many observers were quick to point out that the Capitol Police officers responding to the incident were not furloughed by the government shutdown (they're essential employees), but they are not currently being paid, along with the rest of non-furloughed government staff.
Washington DC, and the Capitol in particular, are at the center of an intense political battle that has led to an effective shutdown of much of the federal government's activities.
Below, Kate Nocera of Buzzfeed tweeted this photo, with: "Literally was dragged in by cop as he heard shots fired come over the radio."
Initial reports on the incident suggested that it was a possible terrorist incident or rampage killing attempt, but subsequent details on Ms. Carey's behavior and mental health history suggest that what happened may be more complicated--and all the more tragic. It is possible that she did not intend to harm anyone, or that she was having some form of mental health crisis. In the end, an unarmed mother was shot to death while a baby sat in the back seat of her car.
Miriam Carey had a history of mental illness and "believed President Obama was electronically monitoring her Connecticut home in order to broadcast her life on television," reports ABC News, citing sources who knew her. Sources cited by ABC News say "Carey believed she was the 'prophet of Stamford' and was capable of communicating with Obama."
CBS News correspondent Bob Orr reports that she was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation after an encounter with police in Connecticut about a year ago. CBS News reports that she "told police in December that she was a prophet, that President Obama would place the city of Stamford under a 'lockdown' and that he had her and her residence under electronic surveillance."