WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – Tourists and lawmakers alike ran for cover amid the chaos as police chased a black Infiniti that had crashed into the White House barriers.
The driver, identified as 37-year-old Miriam Carey of Connecticut, was shot and killed by police gunfire. Police said a 1-year-old girl was also in the car and has been taken to the hospital under protective services.
“The car was trying to get away. But it was going over the median and over the curb,” Matthew Coursen, who was on his way to a legislative office building when the Infiniti sped by him, told the Associated Press. “The car got boxed in and that’s when I saw an officer of some kind draw his weapon and fire shots into the car.”
Giancarlo Reflo, a tourist from Malta, told the Washington Post he was sitting on a bench and saw the car coming towards him, chased by a swarm of police cars.“At first, I thought the driver was trying to get out of the way of police,” he said. Then he realized otherwise.
The fleeing car zoomed past him, turned right on Pennsylvania Avenue and crashed a few blocks away, in front of the Hart Senate Office Building . There was “lots of screaming and shouting,” Reflo said.
“By that time, I was hiding in the bushes, because I was so scared.”
Inside the Capitol people described police running through the building, ordering people to stay in their offices and lock the doors.
“Shots fired outside the Capitol. We are in temporary lock down,” Senator Claire McCaskill said on Twitter.
“It was almost like two very rapid bursts, very loud,” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.). He told the Washington Post he was standing on a balcony at the Capitol.
“That’s when we saw people fleeing, and we realized this was no fireworks,” he said.
Then someone rushed him off the balcony and back into his office.
“It sounded like the first volley of a 21-gun salute,” Connolly said.
Dave Caldwell, an intern for a gay rights group, tells the Washington Post he was in line at a security checkpoint in the Hart Building when a guard yelled “Everyone outside! Everyone outside!”
As he went to the exit he heard “three really loud pops, like right outside the door.” Then the guards ordered everyone back inside the building.
Caldwell ducked into the office of Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) afraid there was someone with a gun inside the building. “I was about to, like, hide under a desk. . . .With the government shut down and things of this nature, I just thought there was such high tension that somebody was really mad at the government.”
He was among about 25 people hunkered down in the office for an hour.
Caldwell called the incident “probably the scariest thing that’s ever happened to me.”