The woman who was shot to death after a high-speed car chase through the streets between the White House and Capitol Hill was still in her car, snagged on the curb of a grass-covered median, when the police fired at her, a Senate official said Friday.
Terrance W. Gainer, the Senate sergeant-at-arms, who was briefed on aspects of the episode, said the woman, Miriam Carey, was trying to make a U-turn between a U.S. Capitol Police security booth and some planters in the middle of the street on Constitution Avenue when Capitol Police officers and uniformed Secret Service officers shot at the car with standard-issue semi-automatic pistols.
Carey, 34, was a dental hygienist who lived in Stamford, Conn. Law enforcement officials said Friday that investigators found antipsychotic medications in her apartment, potential clues to her actions. Friends and relatives, while portraying her as harmless, also recounted some bizarre behavior.
After collecting items from the Stamford apartment and interviewing friends and relatives, law enforcement authorities were still trying to understand what prompted her to drive to Washington and what she hoped to accomplish when she tried to force her way onto the White House grounds.
Questions were also being raised about whether she posed enough of a threat during the fast-moving sequence of events that the police needed to shoot her.
Initially, law enforcement officials said Carey had gotten out of the car when she was shot Thursday afternoon. Early accounts of such events are often inaccurate, however, and on Friday, new details emerged about the shooting and the woman who was killed.
Most police departments discourage or prohibit opening fire on vehicles. With responsibility for safeguarding two of the county’s most significant landmarks, however, the Capitol Police and the Secret Service are particularly attuned to potential terrorist threats.
Car bombs are one concern, as evidenced by the restrictions on vehicles around the Capitol complex, and officials said that by remaining in the car, Carey might have heightened fears that the car was an explosive threat. No firearms or explosives were found on her or in her car.
Investigators were looking into reports from her boyfriend that she had been delusional and believed she was a prophet and under electronic surveillance by President Barack Obama.
Another man who knew her, Majestic Steele, who is a neighbor of Carey’s mother, Idella Carey, said that a few years ago he saw Carey poised outside her mother’s Brooklyn apartment, clutching a Bible and wailing at the sky. “She was saying, ‘Help me,’ and ‘I need you,’ and she was quoting Scripture,” Steele said. “The way she was speaking it sounded like she was in trouble.”
In an interview broadcast Friday night on Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN, Amy Carey, one of her sisters, said, “I just know that my sister did experience postpartum depression with psychosis.” But she said her sister had received “treatment and medication and counseling,” and she added, “she didn’t appear to be unstable.”
As depicted by law enforcement officials, witnesses and video of the chase, the final sequence played out as follows:
Driving a black Infiniti with a young child believed to be her daughter in the backseat, Carey tried to barrel through a checkpoint outside the White House at 2:12 p.m. She hit an officer who tried to stop her and who rolled over the hood of her car.
She then raced down Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol at speeds approaching 80 miles per hour, ignoring red lights and efforts by Secret Service officers to have her pull over. When she seemed boxed in on the western side of the Capitol, officers converged on her with guns drawn. She put her car in reverse and sped off.
In video of the episode, gunshots can be heard as Carey raced away. She hit a police car, then hurtled up Constitution Avenue. There, upon nearing the security booth she tried to make the U-turn.
Officers then opened fire. Authorities would not estimate how many rounds were discharged. Gainer, the sergeant-at-arms, said he believed that five to seven officers had fired.
One officer sustained injuries, which were not life-threatening. The child, who is 1, was not hurt and is in protective custody.
Law enforcement experts outside of Washington said the shooting raised significant issues about the use of deadly force to stop Carey’s car as it traveled along one of the nation’s best-known routes, Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol.Continued...