Investigators Search for Clues in Capitol Chase, Shooting

Police tape blocks the intersection of Louisiana Ave. and 1st following reports of a vehicular incident and shots fired near the Hart Senate Building on Oct. 3, 2013.
Police tape blocks the intersection of Louisiana Ave. and 1st following reports of a vehicular incident and shots fired near the Hart Senate Building on Oct. 3, 2013.

By Lateef Mungin

WASHINGTON (CNN) — After all the chaos and gunfire, still remains the question: Why did a woman with a young child try to drive into a blocked entrance near the White House?

The woman, identified by law enforcement officials as Miriam Carey, was shot dead Thursday.

But why?

Investigators searched for clues at the woman’s Stamford, Connecticut, home into the evening, law enforcement sources said. Police and bomb squad units surrounded an apartment complex there. But authorities gave little official word on what was found.

Other investigators pressed to speak with the woman’s relatives in Brooklyn, New York, but were turned away, federal law enforcement sources told CNN.

It was unclear Thursday night if detectives were closer to learning what prompted the mayhem at the U.S. Capitol.

A car chase, gunshots

The drama began around 2 p.m. when the woman steered a black Infiniti near the White House, a U.S. Secret Service source said. She drove up to a barrier at the 15th and E street checkpoint and was approached by Secret Service officers. She hurriedly tried to drive away, pulled an erratic three-point turn, struck the barrier and backed into an officer before driving away, the source told CNN.

Police said the car sped down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol, where security vehicles stopped it at Garfield Circle.

She slammed into reverse crashing into a cruiser and tried to get away. At that point officers began firing, a witness said.

Dramatic video footage by other witnesses showed the black vehicle then careening around a nearby traffic circle with a police car in close pursuit and then headed away. The car crashed into more security barriers a few blocks later, witnesses said.

More shots were fired after the vehicle stopped, and the woman was hit several times, said Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier. Carey was later pronounced dead, Lanier said. Two officers were injured.

Chaos and a child in the car

Inside the car was a 1-year-old child, who was not harmed. The child was taken into protective custody, officials said. Officers didn’t know there was a child inside the woman’s car during the chase, officials said. Also an early investigation revealed that there was no evidence that the woman had a gun or fired a shot.

The bedlam from the fatal chase reverberated throughout a U.S. Capital already shaken by the recent nearby mass shooting at the Navy Yard. It also came at a time when the government shutdown has hampered some federal agencies.

Authorities lauded the action of police — some of whom aren’t being paid — who responded to the incident.

Because of the government shutdown, U.S. Capitol Police aren’t receiving a paycheck, although they will receive checks once appropriations are restored.

A Capitol Police officer whose vehicle crashed during the chase was hurt, authorities said. The officer was released from a local hospital Thursday night. The Secret Service did not release information about its injured agent.

The chase created a panicked scene of blaring sirens, locked-down lawmakers and bystanders hitting the dirt.

House and Senate sessions were immediately suspended, with legislators ordered to take cover and keep away from windows. Police also closed Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.

“The timing on this was really kind of scary,” said Republican Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas. “Capitol Hill police are at a lower personnel level because of the shutdown.”

(Tom Cohen wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Deborah Feyerick, Evan Perez, Dana Bash, Mike Ahlers, Ted Barrett, Jake Tapper, John King, Aaron Cooper, John Auerbach, Gabe Lamonica, Brian Todd, Martina Stewart, Rose Arce and Dan Merica contributed to this report.)

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